International Olympic Committee says Kremlin claims athletes & fans are exempt from anti-gay "propaganda laws"
By Brody Levesque | LAUSANNE,Switzerland -- The International Olympic Committee notified media outlets Friday that it has received "assurances from the highest level" of the Russian government that athletes and fans that attend the 2014 Winter Olympic games, that will be held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, are exempt from the anti-gay statue that outlaws "homosexual propaganda" making public events that promote gay rights and public displays of affection by same-sex couples illegal.
In an email, the IOC stated;
“As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media,” the IOC wrote adding, “To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.
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 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 jeopardise this principle."
The law, which was signed last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, generated protest from LGBT equality activists around the globe demanding that countries boycott Russia's first Winter Olympics. Russia has come under international criticism, including from the European Court of Human Rights, for its treatment of gay people.
Connecticut based actor and Tony award winning playwright Harvey Fierstein wrote in a now-viral July 21 op-ed in the New York Times that the Russian president had “declared war on homosexuals” and that “the world has mostly been silent.”
However, openly gay three-time U.S. men’s figure skating champion Johnny Weir, who's slated to compete in his second Olympics next year disagrees with a boycott. Weir, whose husband is Russian, said;
“The fact that Russia is arresting my people, and openly hating a minority and violating human rights all over the place is heartbreaking and a travesty of international proportions,” he said in prepared statement.
“I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights, or lack thereof.
I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world. Olympics are history, and they do not represent their host, they represent the world entire.”
A request by LGBTQ Nation to Putin's spokesman Dimitry Peskov for comment went unanswered Friday afternoon.