Russia: Anti-Gay Law Will Apply to Olympians

Violators 'will be held accountable,' could face arrest, deportation

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 2, 2013 8:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – Russia's sports minister has said the country's law banning "homosexual propaganda" will be in full effect during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi—and will apply to foreign athletes. "No one is forbidding a sportsman with a nontraditional sexual orientation to come to Sochi," Vitaly Mutko said yesterday. "But if he goes out on the street and starts to propagandize it, then of course he will be held accountable," the New York Times reports. That, after the International Olympic Committee assured athletes last week that "the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games"; Mutko's comments "seemed to undermine that claim," notes the Times.

The law forbids speaking about homosexuality around minors and bans gay public displays of affection—including hand-holding and symbols, ABC News reports. Violators face fines, arrest, and even deportation. Those symbols include the rainbow pin New Zealand gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup has promised to wear at the games, Daily Xtra reports. "If that gets me in trouble, then so be it," he said. "This is me standing up for what I believe in." (Click to see how gay bar patrons in America are taking a stand against the law.)

A gay rights activist chants slogans during a demonstration in front of the Russian consulate in New York, Wednesday, July 31, 2013.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
FILE - Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko speaks during a news conference on Russia's preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
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