Winter Olympics: Putin ‘Friendly’ With Gay People
Moscow – President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia’s law on “gay propaganda” ahead of the Sochi Olympics but insisted he was not prejudiced against homosexuals.Gay people faced no discrimination at work or in society in Russia, he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, and the new law did not harm anybody.”I myself know some people who are gay,” he said. “We’re on friendly terms. I’m not prejudiced in any way.”
Gay rights campaigners have urged a boycott of the winter games.The controversial legislation passed in June prescribes fines for anyone providing information about paedophilia and homosexuality to people under 18.Critics say the amendment’s loose wording, and its free interpretation by the authorities, effectively make any kind of public gay rights event in Russia impossible.
Some national leaders have indicated they will not attend the games, which run from 7 to 23 February.US President Barack Obama pointedly announced he was sending an Olympic delegation that includes several openly gay sports figures, among them tennis legend Billie Jean King.”If you want my personal attitude, I would tell you that I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation,” Mr Putin told Andrew Marr in Sochi.Famous gay people like the British singer Elton John were popular in Russia, he said.
“I’ve honoured several members of the gay community in this country but for their personal achievements, regardless of their sexual orientation,” he added.Mr Putin also pointed out that many other countries banned homosexual relations.”There’s no danger for individuals of this non-traditional sexual orientation who are planning to come to the games as visitors or participants,” he said. (BBC)