Olympic Committee President: We are powerless to Russia’s anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws
International Olympics Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said there is little he can do to influence Russia’s anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial 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.
Jacques Rogge, speaking in Buenos Aires in his final solo news conference as president of the IOC, said: “We have received some oral and written assurances about the fact the Russian Federation will respect the Olympic charter and no negative effect will occur for people attending in or participating in the Games.
“But one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”
This statement comes after IOC Vice President Ser Miang, who is one of the candidates to replace Mr Rogge, said he was confident the rights of LGBT athletes and spectators will be protected at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Mr Miang said: “This anti-gay law; we now have a written assurance from the highest authority that there will be no discrimination of any kind, respect to the provisions of the Olympic Charter as well as the fundamental principle against discrimination of any kind.”
Last month, Jacques Rogge also said he had received “strong reassurances” from the Russian Government and it was clear “everyone will be welcome at the Games regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva defended the law before collecting her gold medal at the World Championships in Moscow last month.
She later said she may have been “misunderstood” for her controversial statements and insisted she is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
Nevertheless, Mr Rogge added the IOC would now be examining her role as an Olympic ambassador.
He said: “This is something we will consider in due time.”
Mr Rogge has been in office for 12 years but a successor will be chosen on Tuesday from six candidates.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has spoken out against anti-gay laws in Russia to say that Britain’s foreign policy must have “a conscience”, and that it is in the nature of Britain to “stand up for human rights overseas.”
The interview came a day after it was confirmed that David Cameron will raise the issue of the Russian law banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships”, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he travels to St Petersburg for the G20 this week.
President Barack Obama is also reportedly to meet LGBT activists in the Russian city of St Petersburg during his trip to the city as part of a G20 Heads of Government meeting. BuzzFeed made the claim citing Russian LGBT activists.
Protests have taken place around the globe, including in London, as well as in Germany and Denmark, in an attempt to push G20 Government leaders to take action against anti-gay laws in Russia.
Cameron’s commitment came just hours ahead of the “Love Russia, Hate Homophobia” rally at Downing Street yesterday. Along with 32 other cities across the world, the London protest calls on world leaders at the G20 summit to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Out4Russia, launched last week and allows users to lobby G20 governments into action against the Russian law.
Five times the number of participants than were expected took to the streets of Copenhagen two weeks ago to protest against the laws. Similar protests have taken place across the globe.
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