Putin: Olympic athletes will feel ‘comfortable regardless of sexual orientation’

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President Vladimir Putin has once again moved to dismiss concerns about LGBT athletes attending the Winter Olympics in light of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

“We are doing everything, both the organisers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation,” President Putin told Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on Monday.

The Games are due to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in February 2014.

A federal bill banning gay “propaganda” was signed into law by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in June.

It prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.

Campaigners note that there has been an increase in violence and state persecution against LGBT people in Russia following the passing of the laws.

In September, Mr Putin insisted that the legislation only bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” and argued that there was “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities.”

Mr Putin added that although some European countries have introduced same-sex marriage, “the Europeans are dying out… and gay marriages don’t produce children.”

In the same month the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated it was satisfied Russia’s anti-gay laws did not threaten the Olympic Charter.

In response, Amnesty International accused the IOC of missing an opportunity to defend LGBT equality in the global sporting arena.