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Russian LGBTI activists demand Olympic president speak about propaganda laws

Russian LGBTI activists demand Olympic president speak about propaganda laws

In a Paris meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, representatives from Russian gay rights organizations asked Bach to seek specific answers on how Russian authorities will enforce ‘gay propaganda’ laws during the 2014 Winter Games.

‘While we appreciate your assurance that the IOC is committed to non-discrimination, we believe that everyone in the Olympic Movement should have a clear and well-informed understanding of the legal implications that exist in Russia in relation to the basic rights of LGBT individuals,’ the organizations wrote in a 30 November letter presented to Bach, as reported by BuzzFeed.

Bach, who is the new leader of the IOC, was in Russia last month. He met with President Vladimir Putin, who promised gays will be welcomed in Sochi come February.

‘We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation,’ Putin said to Bach at the end of October.

The Russian activists warned the president’s promises were not enough.

‘We are aware of and are gravely concerned with the fact that the IOC does not acknowledge the urgency and necessity of this action, reiterating and endorsing vague assurances by the Russian government of non-discrimination at the Sochi Games,’ the organizations wrote.

The letter was signed by Anastasia Smirnova, representing the following organizations: Russian LGBT Network; St Petersburg LGBT organization ‘Coming Out’;  Side by Side LGBT Film Festival; Russian LGBT Sport Federation; Arkhangelsk LGBT organization ‘Rakurs’; and Out Loud Project.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams described the meeting as productive.

‘We had a good constructive meeting where we listened to the representatives of Russian LGBT groups and LGBT sports groups. It was a good dialogue,’ Adams said in an email to BuzzFeed.