Putin: Sochi is ‘not the place’ to debate Russian anti-gay laws

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Sochi Winter Olympics are “not the place” to debate the country’s treatment of gay rights.

According to Associated Press, Putin spoke on Thursday to the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country has reportedly criticised Russia’s anti-gay legislation in the past.

Before the games’ opening ceremony, he said: “I know you always give much attention to humanitarian issues and adherence to human rights. We are always open to discussion.”

However, he then referred to a television interview with a man in a Sochi gay club, who told reporters: “Leave us alone. Sport is sport. The Olympics are the Olympics. Let’s focus. The less aggression there is over [gay rights] from both sides, the better.”

Putin added: “I second the assessment that this person made in every way.”

In a tweet from his official Twitter account, Mr Rutte said he “Expressed the concerns of the Dutch government and populace about human rights and specific rights of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders) in Russia.”

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.