Russia confirms that anti-gay laws will be enforced during Sochi Winter Olympics

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

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

The ministry, which controls the country’s police force, confirmed on Monday that the law will in fact be enforced, despite some confusion over whether it would remain in place.

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.

The International Olympic Committee had previously claimed that it had received assurances from Russian Government officials that gay athletes would not be affected by the law.

An Interior Ministry statement issued on Monday said: “The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbour a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to ‘promote’ homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully.”

The ministry did go on to claim that that approach did not constitute discrimination against gay people.

“Any discussion on violating the rights of representatives of nontraditional sexual orientations, stopping them from taking part in the Olympic Games or discrimination of athletes and guests of the Olympics according to their sexual orientation is totally unfounded and contrived,” it continued.

Many have raised concerns over the meaning behind the language used in the laws, and the definition thereof.

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.




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