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Putin: Gays welcome at Olympics as long as children left ‘in peace’

Russian president made controversial comments in Sochi

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Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo public domain)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said gays and lesbians are welcome to attend next month’s 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as long as they “leave the children in peace.”

“We have no ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” Putin said in response to a question an Olympics volunteer asked him during a meeting in the Black Sea resort city about Russia’s law that bans gay propaganda to minors as the Associated Press reported. “We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors.”

The AP reported Putin also addressed lingering concerns that gays and lesbians who travel to Sochi for the games would face discrimination under the controversial propaganda law he signed last June.

“We aren’t banning anything, we aren’t rounding up anyone, we have no criminal punishment for such relations unlike many other countries,” he said. “One can feel relaxed and at ease, but please leave the children in peace.”

LGBT rights advocates in Russia and in the U.S. blasted Putin’s comments.

“This statement demonstrates very well how the official discourse labels LGBT people as a threat to children, instilling fear and hatred in the society,” Anastasia Smirnova, spokesperson for a coalition of six Russian LGBT advocacy groups that includes the Russian LGBT Network, told the Washington Blade. “This is what leads to the ‘social cleansing’ performed by vigilantes across Russia, and this is what leaves LGBT youth marginalized and completely isolated. And this is the climate to which the world is invited to experience the Olympic spirit.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) described Putin’s comments as “sickening.”

“His obvious implication that gays prey on children is a desperate excuse for his homophobic stance and policies,” Florida Republican told the Blade. “What Putin doesn’t say is Russia does in fact have an alarming record of child abuse, but that is it not due to the gay community.”

Jamie Kirchick, a journalist who has urged the Obama administration to freeze the assets of Russian citizens and officials directly behind the country’s anti-LGBT crackdown and prevent them from entering the U.S. under a 2012 law, described Putin’s comments as a “reminder” of the Kremlin’s “war on gay people.”

“The association of homosexuality and pedophilia is one of the oldest and nastiest slurs used against gay men, and has provoked countless acts of violence and murder against them through the ages,” Kirchick told the Blade. “His statement that gays are welcome in Russia provided they stay away from children is like inviting a black family into your home but warning them not to touch the silver.”

Putin told reporters during an October press conference in Sochi with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach that gays and lesbians will not suffer discrimination during the games. The IOC has repeatedly asserted it has received assurances from the Kremlin the gay propaganda ban will not affect athletes and others who plan to travel to the games, even though Russian officials have previously said the statute will apply to those who attend the Olympics.

The U.S. State Department last week issued an alert to Americans who plan to travel to Sochi that highlighted, among other things, the vagueness of Russia’s gay propaganda law.

“The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia,” reads the advisory. “Russian authorities have indicated a broad interpretation of what constitutes ‘LGBT propaganda’ and provided vague guidance as to which actions will be interpreted by authorities as ‘LGBT propaganda.’”

Putin on Friday also discussed his position on gay rights an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in Sochi that is scheduled to air in its entirely on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Jan. 19.

A full transcript of the interview was not immediately available, but ABC reported Putin told Stephanopoulos the gay propaganda law does not ban homosexuality in his country. The network reported the Russian president stressed the statute only prohibits “homosexual ‘propaganda’ around minors.”

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Virginia

Youngkin makes additional appointments to Va. LGBTQ+ Advisory Board

Governor plans to revise transgender, nonbinary student guidelines

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday announced the appointment of three people to the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.

Youngkin named Kerry Flynn, Jason Geske and Collin J. Hite to the board.

Casey Flores, the president of Log Cabin Republicans of Richmond, in July resigned from the board before his tenure was to begin. The resignation came amid growing criticism over a series of anti-LGBTQ and misogynist comments he made against Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), among others.

Youngkin last month announced he plans to revise the Virginia Department of Education’s guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students. Thousands of high school students across Virginia on Sept. 27 walked out of class in protest of the planned revision.

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South America

Bolsonaro, Lula to face off in second round of Brazil presidential election

Neither candidate received 50 percent of vote on Sunday

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From left, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Photo of Bolsonaro by Celso Pupo/Bigstock; photo of Lula courtesy Lula campaign)

Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers will be on assignment in Brazil through Oct. 11.

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will face off in the second round of the country’s presidential election on Oct. 30 after neither of them received a majority of votes on Sunday.

Da Silva was ahead of Bolsonaro by a 47.9-43.6 percent margin with 97.5 percent of electronic voting machines counted, according to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain who is a member of the right-wing Liberal Party, represented Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Congress from 1991 until he took office in 2018. 

Polls ahead of Sunday’s election suggested Da Silva was poised to defeat Bolsonaro in the first round. Bolsonaro’s efforts to discredit Brazil’s electoral system increased concerns that violence could erupt in the country if Bolsonaro did not accept the results. 

The incumbent president has faced sharp criticism because of his rhetoric against LGBTQ and intersex Brazilians, women, people of African and indigenous descent and other groups.

He has encouraged fathers to beat their sons if they think they are gay.

Bolsonaro during a 2019 press conference in the White House Rose Garden stressed his “respect of traditional family values.” Bolsonaro has expressed his opposition to “gender ideology,” supports legislation that would limit LGBTQ-specific curricula in Brazil’s schools and condemned a 2019 Brazilian Supreme Court ruling that criminalized homophobia and transphobia.

A Brazilian Federal Police investigator in August called for prosecutors to charge Bolsonaro with incitement for spreading false information about COVID-19 after he said people who are vaccinated against the virus are at increased risk for AIDS. Activists and HIV/AIDS service providers with whom the Washington Blade spoke in March sharply criticized Bolsonaro’s policies towards people with HIV/AIDS.

Supporters of president jair bolsonaro hold a ‘motociata’ near the brazilian congress in brasÍlia, brazil, on oct. 1, 2022. (video by michael k. lavers)

Da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010, is a member of the country’s leftist Workers’ Party.

Sergio Moro, a judge who Bolsonaro later tapped as his government’s Justice and Public Security Minister, in 2017 sentenced Da Silva to 9 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on money laundering and corruption charges that stemmed from Operation Car Wash. 

The Brazilian Supreme Court in November 2019 ordered Da Silva’s release.

Julian Rodrigues, who was the coordinator of the Workers’ Party’s National Working Group from 2006-2012, noted to the Blade during a previous interview that Da Silva in 2004 created the Health Ministry’s “Brazil without Homophobia” campaign. Rodrigues also highlighted Da Silva created the Culture Ministry’s Diversity Secretariat that, among other things, funded community centers and sought to make police officers and other law enforcement officials more friendly to LGBTQ and intersex people.

The Blade will update this story.

A flag in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a bookstore in Brasília, Brazil, on Oct. 1, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
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National

Survey shows 72% of Utah residents back same-sex marriage

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah said he’s not surprised to see that a majority of Utahns now support marriage equality

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The results of a poll run by the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Desert News found 72% of Utah’s residents agree that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by law as valid, with the same rights as cis-gender marriages.

“For a state that less than 20 years ago passed laws and a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, there has been a seismic shift in opinion,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics survey also found that 23% of those surveyed disagreed, while 5% expressed that they don’t know.

The poll shows Utahns are aligned with the nation as a whole on the issue. A Gallup poll in May found 71% of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage, a new high.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told the Desert News that he’s not surprised to see that a majority of Utahns now support marriage equality.

“Utah is a pro-family state, and we recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes. When we see loving, committed couples joining in matrimony, our natural impulse is to support and encourage that love. This gives me great hope for the future,” he said.

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