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Gay Beijing diving gold medalist calls Russian laws contrary to the Olympic spirit

Gay Beijing diving gold medalist calls Russian laws contrary to the Olympic spirit

Matthew Mitcham

Gay diver Matthew Mitcham expressed strong disapproval of the Russian anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law signed by President Vladimir Putin.

‘It’s really sad,’ the 2008 gold winning Australian said to The Telegraph. ‘The way they are persecuting people in Russia is quite horrific.’

He added the regulation, which makes it illegal to say gay relationships are equal to straights ones, will make it difficult for athletes to compete in next year’s Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

‘The Olympics is the best experience you will ever have as an athlete,’ the diver continued.

‘Their whole memory and experience is going to be marred by this stuff. They are going to be made to feel unacceptable, inappropriate, and it is a really awful, awful feeling.’

‘The Olympics are supposed to be somewhere where they can go to be relieved of that feeling. A place where you can compete and feel that gender and sexuality is not an issue,’ Mitcham concluded.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has received calls to boycott, or relocate, the 2014 Winter Games. While the IOC has released a statement saying they’ve received ‘assurances’ from the highest levels of Russian government that LGBT athletes and spectators would be safe, Russia’s state Duma has confirmed that no one will be safe from arrests.

‘If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it,’  Vitaly Milonov, co-sponsor of the ‘non-traditional relationships’ bill, said to Interfax on 30 July. ‘It doesn’t’ have the authority.’