Russian athletes risk arrest with same-sex kiss

Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova were photographed kissing on the lips at the Track and Field World Championships in Moscow

Russian athletes risk arrest with same-sex kiss
18 August 2013

Two Russian runners could face prosecution after kissing on the lips in front of cameras and audiences.

After winning gold medals in the 4x400m race at the World Athletic Championships held in Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova locked lips on the winner’s podium.

It remains unclear as to whether the athletes were congratulating each other in a sign of affection or blatantly defying Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws since neither of the athletes have released a statement.

Their same-sex kiss, however, is expressly forbidden in Russia’s law that bans the promotion of ‘homosexual propaganda’ and could lead to the arrest of the two athletes.

The International Olympic Committee has received conflicting reports from Russian officials as to whether the anti-gay law will be temporarily suspended at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics on account of LGBT athletes and spectators.

While the US Olympic Committee has said the law is ‘inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the Olympic and Paralympic movements,’ executives also want the athletes to ‘comply’ with the anti-gay law.

‘It’s our strong desire that our athletes comply with the laws of every nation that we visit. This law is no different.’

The kiss comes days after Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, after winning her third world title in the pole vault, spoke out against homosexuality and against athletes who protest her country’s anti-gay propaganda law. 

‘It’s unrespectful to our country,’ Isinbayeva said. ‘It’s unrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians. Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands. We have our home and everyone has to respect (it). When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules.’ 

Following an immediate backlash, the athlete subsequently apologized, saying she was misunderstood on account of her poor English.

‘Let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality [which is against the Olympic charter].’

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