Russian Anti-Gay Law: Will Kremlin Enforce Ban On Gay Propaganda At 2014 Winter Olympics In Sochi?
The Russian anti-gay law, which makes it illegal to promote "non-traditional sexual relationships," has foreigners wondering whether or not the ban will be enforced at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Confusion about the discriminatory law, which has gay rights activists across the globe up in arms, comes after officials released conflicting statements about the Russian anti-gay law's implementation during the games.
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Officials are sending mixed signals to the international community about whether the country's no-gay-propaganda law will effect foreign guests and athletes of the Sochi games, with Russia's sports minister saying Thursday that the there will be no exceptions made for foreigners. But Russian officials retracted that decision Friday morning, saying the Russian anti-gay law would not apply to visiting athletes during the game.
AP reported that on Thursday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said foreign athletes would still be expected to follow the Russian anti-gay law.
"No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable," Mutko said during an interview with state news agency RIA Novosti.
On Friday, however, that decision was apparently reversed.
"The Olympics is a major international event," Igor Ananskikh, head of the Russian Duma Committee on physical training, sports and youth, said Friday. "Our task is to be as politically correct and tolerant as we can be. That's why we made the decision not to raise this issue during the Games."
According to RT, the announcement Friday that foreign athletes and visitors would not be subjected to the law coincides with an earlier statement from the International Olympic Committee that the organization had "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."
In June, Russian lawmakers passed a bill that makes it illegal to talk about homosexuality to children and bans the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in Russia. The Guardian reports that the law, which imposes steep penalties for disobedience, passed June 11 with a 436-0 vote. From USA Today:
The measure is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values instead of Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin's rule.
The law sparked protests both in Russia and abroad, with activists calling the Russian anti-gay law discriminatory. They say the law is part of the government's pattern of repressive treatment of sexual minorities.
Penalties for disobeying the Russian anti-gay law include fines up to $3,000 and deportation for foreign citizens.
Human Rights Watch described the anti-gay propaganda law passed in June as "a profoundly discriminatory and dangerous bill that is bound to worsen homophobia in Russia."
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