Russian Official Says Gay Athletes and Spectators Will Be Subject To Arrest At Olympics
A Russian official said gay athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will be subject to arrest. The news comes on the heels of the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, promising on Friday that athletes and visitors will not be affected by the ban on “homosexual propaganda,” which outlaws public events from promoting equal rights and the public display of affection by same-sex couples.
President Vladimir Putin signed the ban in June. Vitaly Milonov, a St. Petersburg politician who co-sponsored the country’s new "non-traditional relationships" bill ban, told Interfax that the law cannot be suspended for the games.
"I have not heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation but I know it is acting in accordance with Russian law," Milonov said.
A statement from the IOC released on Friday said the games would not be targeted by the ban.
"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 IOC said in a statement.
The IOC did not seem sure how authorities would apply the law.
"This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi," the IOC said. "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."
Milonov said the government cannot choose to selectively enforce the law. He admitted he did not personally know any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.
“I can say that the best figure skating in the world is the Soviet school of figure skating,” he said. “All of our people have been brought up in a very traditional way, I am personally acquainted with many Olympic champions. In fact, I practically grew up among many of those families.”
While the LGBT community does its part by boycotting Russian vodka, a White House petition began calling for the Milonov and State Duma deputy Elena Mizulina to be banned from entering the United States.
Milonov said he is not worried about the petition because American politicians have supported his anti-gay ban.
“I get word of such things from time to time," he said. "I absolutely don’t get nervous about this subject. Having spoken with many American politicians, I understand that they support the stance I’ve taken on this issue. Such support has also been expressed to me by several members of German parliament.”