LGBT tourists, athletes won’t be exempt from Russian propaganda laws

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Amidst the Olympics controversy, Russian politician Vitaly Milonov will not exempt LGBT tourists or athletes from its harsh anti-gay laws during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I haven’t heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law,” Milonov said in an interview with Interfax. “And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.”

Milonov is responsible for instituting the “homosexual propaganda” ban and President Putin signed the bill on June 30.

The International Olympics Committee commented on July 17 that LGBT athletes and spectators would be protected.

“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” read a statement by the organization. “The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.”

Spearheaded by journalist Dan Savage, several LGBT advocacy groups have incited an Olympics boycott as well as products from Russia such as Stoli vodka. Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin petitioned NBC to focus coverage on the country’s injustice as well as decline to air the opening ceremony. NBC responded that they would only take action if it becomes a problem.

“If it is still their law and impacting any part of the Olympic games we will acknowledge it,” NBC Sports chief Mark Lazarus said in a press conference with the Television Critics Association.

Gay figure skater pleaded for LGBT advocacy groups to drop the boycott.

“I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof,” wrote Weir on his website. “I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world… Olympics are history, and they do not represent their host, they represent the world entire. People make their own futures, and should a government or sponsor steal that future, whether it be a Russian government or American government, it is, as an athlete, the death and total demolition of a lifetime of work. Support the athletes.”

Currently, a White House petition has been formed in hopes of blacklisting Milonov as well as State Duma deputy Elena Mizulina from entrance visas, with hope of achieving 100,000 signatures for consideration by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Russian LGBT advocate Nikolai Alekseev endorsed the petition but Milonov has gone one record that he is not worried about it.

“Having spoken with many American politicians, I understand that they support the stance I’ve taken on this issue,” Milonov said in an interview with RIA Novosti. “Such support has also been expressed to me by several members of German parliament.”

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