The 14 Words

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Putin says homosexuals will be welcome at Winter Olympics ... so long as they 'leave the children alone'

Russian President Vladimir Putin says gays should feel welcome at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, but they must 'leave the children in peace'.

Mr Putin told volunteers today that gays visiting Sochi 'can feel calm and at ease,' and vowed that there would be no discrimination at the games. But he emphasised that, according to a law banning homosexual 'propaganda' among minors, gays cannot express their views on gay rights issues to anyone under age.

Mr Putin and other politicians have defended the June propaganda law as a protection of child rights, but critics believe that the law discriminates against sexual minorities.

In the wake of international outcry against the bill, Russian authorities have put limits on the right to protest during the Sochi games, which run from February 7-23.

Last week the Orthodox Church in Russia demanded a national referendum on criminalising gay relationships in a move certain to deepen conflict with the West. The demand comes less than a month before the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi when a number of participants and visitors are expected to stage protests against laws banning the promotion of homosexuality to young people. 

The spokesman for the church - which is seen as close to Putin - said Russia should not be dictated to by liberal Western values, and urged a referendum on a return to a Soviet law enacted by Stalin which criminalised homosexuality.

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