Swedish ice hockey star notes positive reaction to his criticism of anti-gay laws in Russia

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Swedish ice hockey star Victor Hedman, has noted the “positive” response he received after speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay law, which was passed in June, and which bans the “promotion” of homosexuality.

Hedman noted that he was not the only Swedish athlete to come out against the law, but he emphasised the importance of standing up for the rights of LGBT people.

“Everything has been just positive from the people I know,” Hedman said on Monday. “It’s been a big topic with everyone and as far as with friends and family, they liked the response. We just stood up for everyone’s rights.”

Last week, he criticised the law. Speaking to Aftonbladet newspaper, he said: “That’s completely wrong. We’re all humans… No one should have a say in what way you are sexually oriented.”

“The Olympics is there for a reason,” Hedman continued. “Everybody should be able to participate and be themselves. Everybody should stand up for homosexual rights.”

“There’s going to be a buzz about it. They have their own rules,” Hedman said speaking of the law. “You can think it’s wrong, but when you’re there you’re going to focus on the Olympics and play well in those games.”

“I know a lot of people who think it’s wrong. I think it’s wrong,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough question for everyone to answer. But I made my statement, and that’s where I stand.”

The hockey star’s Olympics teammate Henrik Zetterberg was also quoted in the article, and high jumper Emma Green Tregaro, also Swedish, took a stand by painting her nails in rainbow colour, and then in red “for love”, at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, after she was warned that she may have broken the code of conduct.

Also at Moscow,  US track and field star Nick Symmonds, who earlier this week dedicated a silver medal to gay and lesbian people, has spoken out against Russian anti-gay laws, saying they have started the “defining civil rights movement of our time”.

Ms Tregaro’s painted nails also prompted Russia’s pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva to brand her “disrespectful to our country”.

Ms Isinbayeva, an ambassador for next year’s Winter Olympics to be staged in Sochi, recently came under controversy for saying she supported the Russian anti-gay laws.

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.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said they are currently seeking “clarification” from Russia on how the law will be applied.

On Monday, the Russian Interior Ministry confirmed that recently introduced anti-gay legislation will remain in force during the Sochi games.

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.

In an interview last week, a senior International Olympics Committee member said: “Russia must respect the Olympic Charter, or we will say goodbye to them”, broaching the question of relocating the games with the IOC for the first time.