Russian Lawmaker: Anti-Gay Laws Still Apply During Olympics

Questions surrounding how Russia will treat gay athletes and tourists during the 2014 Winter Games continue. posted on

Dmitry Lovetsky / AP

Gay rights activists with rainbow flags during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg on May 1.

At least one prominent Russian lawmaker has spoken out against Russia’s promise to the International Olympic Committee that 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics athletes and tourists will not be affected by Russia’s “gay propaganda” ban, according to a Tuesday Gay Star News report.

Russia’s strong anti-LGBT sentiment — including the new law that outlaws and punishes the spreading of information about “non-traditional sexual behavior” to minors — has recently been called into question, as the country prepares to host the games.

Last week, the IOC announced that Russian officials said the propaganda legislation “will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

But speaking to Interfax, Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, author of St. Petersburg’s version of the law, said the government cannot temporarily suspend or allow exemptions to the law.

His translated comments:

“I have not heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation but I know it is acting in accordance with Russian law. 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.”

It’s unclear if or how he plans to fight the law’s “suspension.”

From the IOC’s statement last week:

“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. 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.”

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