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Russia's anti-gay laws to be enforced during Winter Olympics

Yahoo!7 July 31, 2013, 10:28 am

The Russian politician responsible for the country's controversial anti-gay legislation maintains the laws will be enforced during next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Vitaly Milonov, the man behind the 'gay propaganda' ban that was signed into federal law on June 30, says the government does not have the authority to selectively suspend or enforce the legislation.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved to quell the concerns of gay rights activists by saying foreign athletes and visitors to Sochi for the Games in February would not be targeted by the laws.

But in an interview with Interfax, Milonov says the laws cannot be changed:

"I haven't heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law.

"And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority."

In the interview, Milonov claimed the laws are "defending children from the propaganda of non-traditional values".

The laws, which were approved by President Vladimir Putin (above) last month, bans "homosexual propaganda" at public events and the distribution of materials to young people.

Fines of up to $30,000 apply to those who break the new laws, while it also allows the government to detain gay or "pro-gay" foreigners for up to 14 days before they face deportation.

Milonov's comments come just weeks after the IOC maintained that the Games were open to everyone.

"The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation," the IOC said in a statement.

"The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle."While there are no official figures on anti-gay crime in Russia, gay rights campaigners say most attacks go unreported and the lack of official statistics hide the truth."Such crimes are committed around Russia every day," said gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alexeyev."As a rule, all these crimes are categorised as something ordinary - they argued over a bottle of vodka, or there was 'personal animosity'. The real motive of hate is not mentioned."Prior to Milonov’s recent statement, gay US figure skater Johnny Weir had discouraged talk of boycotting the Games, saying those who would suffer the most would be the athletes who have "dedicated their lives to possibly having their lone life-changing moment."The Sochi Games will be held between February 7-23, while the 2018 soccer World Cup will also be held in Russia.

Gay US figure skater Johnny Weir has tried to dismiss calls for the Games to be boycotted. Source: Getty

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