The mayor of Sochi, host of the Winter Olympics, has said there are no gay people in the city.
Anatoly Pakhomov said homosexuals were welcome at the Games – as long as they “respect Russian law” and “don’t impose their habits on others”.
Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov said there were several gay bars in Sochi.
In June 2013, Russia passed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality to under-18s – widely seen as an attack on gay rights.
The controversial new law made providing information on homosexuality to under-18s a crime, punishable by a fine.
Critics say its loose interpretation effectively stops gay rights protests in Russia.
“As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi… how do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt? ”
Boris Nemtsov Opposition leader
Anatoly Pakhomov, a member of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, told Panorama that gay people would be welcome at the Games.
“Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and doesn’t impose their habits on others”, he said.
But when asked whether gay people had to hide their sexuality in Sochi, the Mayor said: “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”
When challenged, the mayor admitted that he was not certain there were no gay people in Sochi: “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”
BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney visited a gay bar in Sochi the night before he interviewed the mayor.
Most people did not want to be filmed and those that did were cautious about what they said.
Drag queen Madame Zhu-Zha said there was a gay community in the city and in other areas of Russia.
“There are very many clubs for gay people in Moscow – in Sochi we have two gay clubs as well. In some places there’s serious prejudice against gay people. In other places it’s not as bad.”
The Sochi 2014 organising committee told BBC Panorama it was working hard to ensure the Games will be remembered for their diversity.
Boris Nemtsov, former Deputy Prime Minister and now a leader of the opposition, said the mayor’s claim was laughable.
“As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi.
“How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?”
Last week, President Vladimir Putin said homosexuals would be welcome in Sochi for the Olympics but said, “just leave the children alone”.
“We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” he said. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia.”
Panorama: Putin’s Games, BBC One, Monday 27 January at 20:30 GMT and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.
(Video credit: özgür demirt Published on Jan 27, 2014)
Russian PM Medvedev on gay rights
(Video credit: Impartial News Center Published on Jan 26, 2014)
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviews Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
‘Welcome’ but warned – Russia’s Putin cautions gay visitors to Sochi
(Video credit: euronews (in English) Published on Jan 18, 2014)
“Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has reiterated earlier statements that gay visitors are welcome at the Games.
At a meeting with a group of young Sochi volunteers, Putin said, “We are not banning anything. We are not rounding up anyone. We have no criminal punishment for such relations, unlike many other countries.”
The Russian President, however, was also keen to stress the country’s ban on promoting homosexuality amongst minors.
“So one can feel relaxed and at ease, but please leave children in peace,” Putin continued.” – Euronews
Putin on anti gay law – BBC News
(Video credit: TvProgramss 21 January 2014)
Should athetes boycott Sochi?
Team GB Refuses Sochi Boycott
(Video credit: TheNetFrancesco Published on Aug 9, 2013)
Stephen Fry: Gay solidarity needed at Russian winter Olympics
(Video credit: The Telegraph)
Peter Tatchell on the petition to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia
(Video credit: Kasia Madera Published on Aug 9, 2013)
Gay Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell talks about the petition to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia because of new anti-gay laws.
This is the incident back in 2007 to which Peter Tatchell refers….
(Video credit: thx1138mindlock Uploaded on Feb 22, 2010 Moscow, 2007)
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell visciously punched in the face, kicked then arrested. Homophobic assailant walks free.
Richard Fairbrass (Bi-Sexual) punched in the face.
30 members of European Parliament also arrested.
Should the world boycott the Sochi Olympics in defense of gay rights?- Russia Today
(Video credit: Newsnation6 Published on Aug 9, 2013)
“British actor Steven Fry has sparked a fierce debate, asking the International Olympic Committee to move the upcoming Winter Games from Sochi to Vancouver. He even compared Russia’s treatment of homosexuals to Nazi Germany. Was he right?
The subject of Fry’s ire is a controversial law passed in June, which forbids the “promotion of non-traditional relations among minors.” The terms “non-traditional” and “promotion” are open to wide interpretation, with many gay activists in Russia calling the law a potential blanket ban on any manifestations. They also say that police have idly stood by as attacks on homosexuals multiplied on the back of the new legislation.
While the first Olympic boycott dates back to 1936, when over 20 countries withdrew in protest against Nazism, the phenomenon reached its peak in the 1970s and 80s — when four Olympic Games in a row had absentees. The 1980 Moscow Games and the 1984 Los Angeles Games saw rival Socialist and Western blocks withdraw en-masse.
In recent weeks, the International Olympic Committee has negotiated with Russia’s Olympic organizers, saying that it received “assurances” that the law would be suspended for the duration of the Games. Russian officials have produced conflicting statements in response, and the situation remains uncertain.” – Russia Today
Gays face hatred attacks in Russia
CNN NEWS INTERNATIONAL)
The terrifying reality of life under Russia’s anti-gay laws
(Video credit: Journeyman Pictures)