French Sports Minister expresses ‘worry’ over Russian anti-gay law

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The French Sports Minister has said to her Russian counterpart she is “worried” by recently introduced anti-gay laws in the country.

France’s Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron told AFP that she spoke to the Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko in Moscow to say that France was “clearly opposed to all discrimination based on sexual orientation”.

She said she was worried that the law, recently signed by President Vladimir Putin, which bans homosexual “propaganda” risked overshadowing the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

“I was able to tell my Russian counterpart that France was worried by the adoption and implementation of the law… which challenges the freedom of expression of any person, whether they are LGBT or not, who wants to speak out on this subject,” she told AFP by telephone.

“We think that it is much more our duty to continue to try and alert the Russian authorities” to the problems created by the law, she added.

During an interview with a senior member of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) from last week, the question of whether to relocate the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics because of recently introduced anti-gay laws, was raised for the first time.

Today the Interior Ministry confirmed that recently introduced anti-gay legislation will remain in force during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

On Friday, IOC president Jacques Rogge reaffirmed his organisation’s commitment to  a Winter Olympics free of all discrimination following calls from such names as Stephen Fry and Tory MP Mike Freer to either relocate or outright boycott the games altogether.

The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.

Also last week, the Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the world to “calm down” over Russia’s recently passed laws.

A petition which has gathered over 150,000 signatures, calls for the 2014 games to be relocated to Vancouver, following the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.

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.