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Pshaw! Gays to be ‘Safe’ at Russian Winter Olympics Says Vlad Putin, But Leave Them Kids Alone

by JOE DELMONACO

Claiming that Russia is more liberal than other countries with respect to LGBT rights, its president, Vladimir Putin, announced on Friday that homosexuals attending or participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics will be safe. Saying that the situation in Russia is better for homosexuals than in other countries, including the US, where same-sex activity is “punishable by law” in some states, Putin asserted that all will be well for gays during the Russian games.
Russian president Vladimir Putin poses with volunteers after arriving in Sochi to inspect preparations for the Winter Olympics. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty

Russian president Vladimir Putin poses with volunteers after arriving in Sochi to inspect preparations for the Winter Olympics. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty

While in Sochi reviewing preparations for the Games, Putin said that no one would be harassed in Sochi:
“We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships … We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia. I want to underline this. Propaganda among children. These are absolutely different things – a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing.  We are not forbidding anything and nobody is being grabbed off the street, and there is no punishment for such kinds of relations … You can feel relaxed and calm [in Russia], but leave children alone please.”

Since Russia’s Putin-supported anti-gay propaganda law passed last year, a significant increase in violent attacks upon homosexuals has been widely reported.

In a bizarre exchange with reporters, Putin also claimed that some countries are currently attempting to legalize paedophilia.  When asked to identify those countries, Putin demurred, saying it was easy to find out on the internet.

Many activists have called for a general boycott of the games, withdrawal by major advertisers, or pressure from the international community intended to pressure Russia into discarding its legal discrimination against gay people.  These arguments have largely been unheeded, although the Olympic Charter states quite clearly that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

The Olympic Games kick off in Sochi, Russia on February 7, 2014.

Joe Delmonaco is a freelance writer living in New York City.

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