August 12, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Russia to enforce anti-gay law during Olympics

Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo public domain)

The Russian government on Monday said authorities will enforce the country’s gay propaganda ban during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“The Interior Ministry of Russia during the Olympic games, as well as at any other time, will operate under Russian law in general and in particular on the law protecting children from the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations,” the Russian Interior Ministry said in a statement posted to its website in Russian. “Law enforcement measures will be applied in accordance to Russian law to people carrying out such activities.”

The statement comes nearly two weeks after the International Olympic Committee said it had “received assurances” from the highest levels of the Russian government that the broadly worded law that President Vladimir Putin signed in June would not impact athletes who plan to compete in the games and those who will travel to Sochi for them.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told a Russian sports website earlier this month the gay propaganda law would apply to those who travel to the Olympics. He told reporters during a Moscow press conference on August 8 that those who continue to criticize the statute need to “calm down.”

Outrage over Russia’s LGBT rights record continues to grow amid calls to boycott the Sochi games.

Gay New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup last month announced he will wear a Pride pin during the Olympics. Figure skater Johnny Weir, whose husband is of Russian descent, told CBS News in an interview posted to its website on August 9 that he is “not afraid of being arrested” while in Sochi.

“If it takes me getting arrested for people to pay attention and for people to lobby against this law, then I’m willing to take it,” Weir said.

President Obama told Jay Leno during an appearance on “The Tonight Show” on August 6 that he has “no patience” for countries in which anti-LGBT laws remain on the books. The White House the following day cited Russia’s LGBT rights record as among the reasons that prompted Obama to cancel a meeting with Putin that had been scheduled to take place in Moscow before next month’s G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.

“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there,” Obama said during a White House press conference on August 9. “If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker.”

The Russian Interior Ministry stressed in its statement that those who do not violate the gay propaganda law will be able to “take part in the Olympics peacefully” as the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on its website. It also took issue with those who continue to criticize Russia over its LGBT rights record.

“The criticisms concerning the violation of the rights of gay [people,] preventing them from taking part in the Olympics, discrimination [against] athletes and Olympic guests on the grounds of sexual orientation are completely baseless and far-fetched,” the Russian Interior Ministry said. “We consider them only as an attempt to undermine the credibility of the upcoming Olympic games in Sochi.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

2 Comments
  • You can't tell me that the IOC and the corporate sponsors of the upcoming Sochi Olympics in fascist Russia were not aware of Vladimr 'Pukin' Putin's intentions to pass a draconian and evil anti-Gay law into effect some few hundred days before the start of the winter Olympic games in Sochi. And Russia, a land always dominated by thugs, will make sure to call out its gangs of unemployed male zombies, to enforce its evil edicts.

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