Wednesday, July 31, 2013

 

Russia anti-gay laws to stay in place for Sochi Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee claims the new legislation will not be enforced,but the bill's co-sponsor says it will remain in effect.




Russia anti-gay laws during Olympics: Olympic rings are seen in front of the airport of Sochi, the host city for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
Foreign citizens who violate the new Russian law can be detained for 15 days and then deported, which may apply to Olympic athletes.
The International Olympic Committee said it had assurances from the highest levels of Russian government that no Olympic athlete or spectator will be fined or arrested under a new Russian law that prohibits public displays of gay pride.

But on Monday, the bill's co-sponsor, Vitaly Milonov, said the law will remain in effect during the Sochi Winter Olympics next February.

Milonov told Russian media that he's heard nothing from Russian Federation officials about lifting the order for the Olympics nor does he think they have a right to, Gay Star News reported.

"If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it,"  he told Russian news outlet Interfax. "It doesn’t have the authority."


Milonov also claimed to have spoken with American and German lawmakers who he said supported the "non-traditional sexual relations" bill, Gay Star News reported.

The bill, signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations." Milonov, a legislator from St. Petersburg, had previously help pass a similar law in that city.



Under the new nationwide law, heavy fines are imposed for providing information about homosexuality to minors or holding gay pride events, like parades and rallies. Foreign citizens arrested for violating the law can be detained for 15 days and then deported, which concerns Olympic spectators and athletes.

One gay Olympic athlete, New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, says he has no plans to skip the Sochi games because of the new law.

"I have no interest in going back into the closet in Sochi," he told the Daily Xtra.

 "This is not about defiance. This is me standing up for what I believe in."

Gay rights groups all across the world have called on the IOC to take a firmer stand against the law and do more than receive verbal assurances.

"They should be advocating for the safety of all LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in Russia, not simply those visiting for the Olympics," Chad Griffin, president of the U.S.-based Human Rights Commission, told the Associated Press. "Rescinding this heinous law must be our collective goal."

One popular form of protest has been the mass disposals of Russian vodka. 


While opponents of the law originally called on bars to pour out their Stolichnaya vodka,the liquor producer's CEO, Val Mendeleev, said recently that he too feels the law is "dreadful," and that all Stolichnaya vodka is produced in Latvia, not Russia, the AP reported.

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