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Rediff.com  » Sports » Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

Last updated on: August 09, 2013 13:41 IST

Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

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Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has urged critics of the country's new anti-gay laws to calm down and said that the rights of all athletes competing at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi will be respected.

-Actor Fry demands homophobic Russia be stripped of 2014 Winter Games

Russia's anti-gay propaganda law is attracting widespread condemnation but the country's sports minister and the head of world athletics were unconcerned on Thursday about its potential impact on the world championships.


Image: Protesters kiss outside the Russian Consulate in Vancouver, British Columbia
Photographs: Andy Clark/Reuters

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According to the New York Daily News, the minister, however, did insist that athletes would have to respect the laws of the country during the February 7-23 games in the Black Sea resort in southern Russia.

"I want to ask you to calm down as in addition to this law we have a constitution that guarantees all citizens a private life," sports minister Vitali Mutko said.


Image: Gay and human rights activists chant slogans
Photographs: Burak Kara/Getty Images

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Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

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The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies, the report said.

Mutko said that the athletes can come and compete and the chase for medals should be their primary concern, adding that it was a sports festival and talks should be only about that.


Image: Protesters kiss outside the Russian Consulate in Vancouver
Photographs: Andy Clark/Reuters

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Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

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"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.

"I was in Sochi yesterday and all the athletes and organisations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected...but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in."

Mutko raised concern last week among gay rights advocates with comments that the law would be enforced during the Sochi Games, the report added.


Image: Protester Greg White kisses his pet dog Kokomo outside the Russian Consulate
Photographs: Andy Clark/Reuters

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Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

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The International Association of Athletics Federations has urged Russia to reconsider its views on gay rights, but the head of track and field's ruling body indicated on Thursday the federation did not want to raise political issues about the law, the report further said.

IAAF president Lamine Diack was similarly unperturbed.

"I don't feel there is a problem whatsoever," said the 80-year-old Senegalese.


Image: Co-Founder of the gay rights group "All Out" Andre Banks (left) addresses Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin (right) over Russia's anti-gay propaganda law
Photographs: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

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Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

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The Russian ban has led some to call for a boycott of the Sochi Games but Diack, who says he helped prevent Senegal from boycotting the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, said any political concerns should be kept separate.


Image: People dress up as they attend a rally in support of the United States Supreme Court decision on marriage rights in San Diego
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Relax about anti-gay rights at Sochi Olympics: Russian minister

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US President Barack Obama has voiced his concern while openly gay British writer Stephen Fry compared the restrictions surrounding next year's Sochi Winter Olympics to the anti-Semitic backdrop of the Nazi-controlled summer Games of 1936.


Image: Friends Kelly Linley (left) and Katie Greiswold smile as they are photographed during a rally in support of the United States Supreme Court decision on marriage right
Photographs: Mike Blake/Reuters

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