UN Russian Ambassador says anti-gay law will remain in effect during Winter Olympics

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The Russian Ambassador the the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, has addressed gay rights campaigners to say that recently introduced anti-gay laws will remain in effect during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Churkin came out to greet members of AllOut campaign group in Washington, who had planned to deliver an almost 350,000 strong petition pushing for international governments to take action against the laws, which forbids the “promotion” of homosexual propaganda to minors, and the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples.

Speaking to Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut, Churkin’s comments exchoed those of Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Thursday, in saying that Russia supports nondiscrimination, but that the laws would remain in effect during the games.

The Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko yesterday told the world to “calm down” over Russia’s recently passed laws that ban the bans the “promotion of non-traditional relationships”.

Following the meeting, Banks released a statement which read: “The Ambassador seemed in denial about Russian citizens being fined and jailed under this new anti-gay law. The Russian government is endangering Russia’s international reputation, and possibly their Olympic ambitions, by not taking seriously the global outcry against these laws.”

He continued: “When the government sanctions discrimination, hate crimes flourish. We recently saw the lurid torture and death of a gay Russian man captured on video. How much more will world leaders endure before speaking out?”

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. Other laws banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples, and one which enables organisations receiving funding from abroad to be fined as “foreign agents”, were also passed.

Conservative MP Mike Freer yesterday told PinkNews he was appalled by the Russian Government’s stance on gay equality and that he would like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider moving the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia.

On Wednesday, author and television presenter Stephen Fry wrote 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.

In a statement, the IOC said it “respected Mr Fry’s opinion” and the committee was clear that “sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation”.

On Thursday, the Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for Human Rights, Kerry McCarthy, told PinkNews that the UK Government needed to use next month’s G20 meeting in St Petersburg to raise the issue of gay rights with Russia.

Last week, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told PinkNews.co.uk that it was alarmed by the “growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia”.

A UK Government source also said that they anticipated the issue of homophobic oppression in Russia would be raised at the G20 Heads of Government meeting.

With international interest on the LGBT situation in Russia at an unprecedented level – on Thursday PinkNews published a collection of the most shocking LGBT stories to have come from the country in the past seven years.