Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko wants everyone to ‘calm down’ about his country’s anti-gay propaganda law and the Olympics.
Just a week ago, Mutko said gay athletes would be ‘held accountable’ if they went into the street and started ‘propagandizing’ their sexuality.
But he told reporters Thursday (8 August) that athletes should ‘relax’ about the law during this weekend’s World Athletic Championships in Moscow and next year’s Olympics in Sochi, according to the Associated Press.
‘I want to ask you to calm down as in addition to this law we have a constitution that guarantees all citizens a private life,’ he said at packed news conference in a Moscow hotel.
‘It is not intended to deprive people of any religion, race or sexual orientation but to ban the promotion of non-traditional relations among the young generation,’ he also said. ‘All the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected.’
Then he added: ‘But of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in.’
International Association of Athletics Federations President Lamine Diack said of the anti-gay law: ‘I don’t feel there is a problem whatsoever. There is a law that exists, it has to be respected, we are here for the world championships and have no problem whatsoever and I’m not worried at all.’
Russia’s hosting the 2014 Olympics has brought international attention to country’s recently-enacted anti-gay propaganda law.
It allows police officers to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian, or ‘pro-gay’ and detaining them for up to 14 days.