International Association of Athletics Federations calls on Russia to review anti-gay laws

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The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has called on Russia to reconsider its homophobic censorship laws but stresses the upcoming athletics championships in Moscow should not be overshadowed by politics.

IAAF Deputy General Secretary Nick Davies said it would be good for the Russian Government to see people with “alternative lifestyles and this may serve as an impetus for them to reconsider their views instead of just living in an isolated society.”

Whilst opposing discrimination in its charter, Mr Davies said as an international organisation, “we have to respect the laws of the land”.

“The IAAF cannot control or modify this,” Mr Davies added.

The world championships start on Saturday in Moscow.

On Tuesday evening, in an interview with Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show, President Obama was asked about the implementation of homophobic censorship laws in Russia.

The president replied saying he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Russia has said it will enforce the legislation when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“Do you think it will affect the Olympics?” Leno asked President Obama.

He replied: “Every judgement should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

He added: “I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.”

Meanwhile UK Actor, author and television presenter Stephen Fry has written an open letter to David Cameron, International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe, urging for the 2014 Winter Olympics to not take place in Sochi.

However, gay US figure skater Johnny Weir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that boycotting the Winter Olympics would be “silly”.

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