Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of Formula One, spoke to CNN of his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his views on homosexuality. Ecclestone even revealed his “great admiration” for the Russian president and said he believes that Putin deserves more credit than international leaders and media are giving him.
On February 20, the Formula One chief said that Putin’s policies on gay rights had been misrepresented.
“He hasn’t said he doesn’t agree [with homosexuality], just that he doesn’t want these things publicized to an audience under the age of eighteen,” said Ecclestone, arguing critics had misrepresented Putin.
“I completely agree with those sentiments and if you took a world census you’d find 90% of the world agree with it as well,” added the 83-year-old, who oversees one of the world’s most lucrative sports.
Putin signed the anti-gay propaganda law that was passed in the summer of 2013. Three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in Sochi, Putin announced that the LGBT community would not be prosecuted for attending the Games, so long as they stayed away from children.
“We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships,” said Putin, as reported by Russian outlets. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. 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.”
According to the Guardian, Putin further defended his law against LGBT people, stating that Russia was much more liberal than some other countries and pointed out that there are still certain states in the US where homosexuality is punishable by law. Though not every state has legal recognition of same-sex relationships or discrimination protections, sodomy laws were struck down nationwide by Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.
Ecclestone met the Russian president through a Formula One deal that brought the pair face-to-face. As a result of the deal, Russia will watch Sochi host another huge sporting event—the F1 race—for the first time. The race is scheduled for later this year in October.