Despite a recent Russian law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors”, President Vladimir Putin says that gay athletes will not be discriminated against at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“On my own and on your behalf, I have assured Mr. President (Bach) that we will do our best, and our athletes and fans will do their best too, so that both participants and guests feel themselves comfortable at Sochi Olympics regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation,” Putin said, according to a report from the Associated Press. “I would like to underline that.”
Putin made the comments at a meeting in front of Russian sports officials and IOC President Thomas Bach, according to the report.
Because of the new Russian “propaganda” law, widespread protest and fear that athletes would be singled out and discriminated against has largely overshadowed any preparations for the 2014 games.
Hopefully what Putin is saying isn’t just more propaganda.
The Russian president had claimed that “In Russia there are no laws which punish sexual minorities,” according to the New York Times, but many had feared how the new law might be upheld and interpreted, especially at an event of such a large scale and featuring such a wide cross section of cultures and beliefs.
One can hope Putin is telling the truth here.