Athletes and spectators not exempt from anti-LGBT laws at Russian Olympics

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Russia has decided: its laws will remain intact for visitors from the world’s LGBT community. Russia’s Interior Ministry announced on August 12 that its newly implemented anti-LGBT laws would not exempt LGBT athletes or spectators during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

“The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbour a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to ‘promote’ homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully,” according to a statement from the Interior Ministry.

Signed by President Putin on June 30, the country legalized a law that will ban any forms of “homosexual propaganda.” The upper house of the Russian Parliament voted for the new legislation as well as the lower parliamentary with a unanimous vote of 436 to 0. Other laws approved were restricting foreign LGBT couples from adopting Russian children, fining a person for insulting one’s religious beliefs, and banning pride festivals.

“Any discussion on violating the rights of representatives of nontraditional sexual orientations, stopping them from taking part in the Olympic Games or discrimination of athletes and guests of the Olympics according to their sexual orientation is totally unfounded and contrived,” the statement continued.

The new laws are allegedly to “protect the youth,” as well as maintain Catholic Orthodox values.

The International Olympic Committee reported earlier last month that the Russian government would allow protections for LGBT athletes and spectators.

“We have to abide by the Olympic charter, the charter is very clear. Sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge in a press release. “The law was adopted and we received assurances from the head organizer of the Sochi Olympics. It is more a translation issue [than]about fundamentals. We would treat every case independently.”

Several Russian lawmakers have already denied the request with one lawmaker, Russian sports minister Vitalu Mutko, telling everybody to “calm down.”

“It is not intended to deprive people of any religion, race or sexual orientation but to ban the promotion of non-traditional relations among the young generation,” said Mutko. “I was in Sochi yesterday and all the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected… but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in.”

UK politician Mike Freer suggested the Olympics should be relocated, while the LGBT advocacy group Equality For All created a petition, which Star Trek actor George Takei supported.

Spearheaded by journalist Dan Savage, several gay bars across the world from America to Australia have boycotted the games as well as Russian products. Eighty-three members of Congress have petitioned for LGBT protections, while President Obama publicly condemned Russia for their inhuman acts.

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