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Russia Sports Minister: Gay Sochi athletes can be arrested

The International Olympic Committee’s promise from Russia appears to be a shambles. Russia will arrest LGBT athletes at Sochi 2014
Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Sports Minister, says the anti-gay law will be applied to LGBT athletes at Sochi 2014.
Photo by Елена Рыбакова.

Russia’s Sports Minister has confirmed LGBT athletes are not exempt from draconian anti-gay laws at the Sochi Winter Olympics – despite claims to the contrary.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) claims the government had promised them the laws wouldn’t be used during the 2014 games.

But Gay Star News warned on Tuesday (30 July) that Russian lawmakers were saying the legislation would still be applied.

Now the comments from Vitaly Mutko, released today to the country’s R-Sport agency, confirm the IOCs promise is worthless.

The IOC had said the Russian government had ‘assured’ them all athletes and spectators will be safe from arrest.

In the first government reaction after that claim, Mutko told R-Sport: ‘No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable.’

LGBT activists in Russia say the nationwide law, which bans the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality to children, is really a crackdown on all gay people in the country.

Individuals breaching the law will carry a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($166 €124).

Organizations found guilty will be fined up to 1 million rubles ($30,790 €23,215) and may be suspended for 90 days, which, in practice, may mean some LGBT organizations find it impossible to operate.

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