Russian president Vladimir Putin has offered to meet with LGBT activists.
Organizations around the world have been pressuring Russia to drop its recently enacted anti-LGBT laws; previously, Putin has only claimed in response that the country does not discriminate against gay people and the ban on “homosexual propaganda” to children was necessary to protect the youth and preserve traditional Russian Orthodox values.
In an interview with Russia’s government-run Channel 1 television, according to Gay Star News, he said that he has in fact worked with “these people,” even awarding state prizes to some of them.
Putin also said that the composer Tchaikovsky is still loved by Russians today, despite his homosexuality: “Truth be told, we don’t love him because of that, but he was a great musician and we all love his music.” The producers of a film about Tchaikovsky announced in August that although previous drafts of the script referenced his sexuality, they had been excised to stay within Russian law.
Russian officials have stated that the new anti-LGBT laws remain in force during the Olympics in Sochi, and that foreign visitors will not be exempt from them; there will also be a strict ban on rallies and protests in the area.
Putin’s announcement comes only a day after a worldwide “Day of Action,” where thirty-three events were held in over twenty countries to demand world leaders challenge Russia’s anti-gay laws at the upcoming G20 summit in Petersburg.