Russian Sports Minister: We will arrest pro-gay ‘Sochi 2014’ Olympic athletes, guests

In a shocking development, Russia’s Minister of Sports, Vitaly Mutko, said that athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia will be subject to arrest should they exhibit any pro-gay tendencies.

Mutko’s statement directly contradicts assurances given by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week that Russia had promised to exempt Olympic athletes and visitors from the country’s draconian new anti-gay and anti-trans law.

Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. kojoku / Shutterstock.com

Russian state media, RIA Novosti, reporting:

“No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable,” Mutko told R-Sport.

Agence France-Presse has more.  Apparently Minister Mutko is concerned that gay athletes are going to go after Russia’s innocent children:

“The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors,” Mutko told the R-Sport news agency….

“As a sportsman, he should respect the law of a country,” Mutko added. “Come (to Sochi), but don’t get young people involved, don’t make propaganda. This is what we are talking about.”

So the question now is whether the IOC lied when it alleged last week that gay, and gay-friendly, Olympic athletes would be exempt from Russia’s new “anti-propaganda” law, or whether the Russian government is in such turmoil that one hand of government doesn’t know what the other hand of government is even doing.

What we do now is that any IOC assurances for the safety of Olympic athletes and guests are now meaningless.

Either way, this does not bode well for the safety of US, and international, Olympic athletes and guests planning to attending the Sochi games in 2014.

Some gay athletes have already said that they would sport rainbow pins during the competition, which means, per Russia’s Mutko, that they will be arrested.

Russia’s new law bans anything perceived as pro-gay, from heterosexuals or gays.  Those things made illegal under the legislation include pro-gay speech, same-sex couples holding hands, and the wearing of any kind of rainbow design, or anything else, that suggests support for gay and trans people.  Last year, someone was even arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders under a local version of the national law.

What’s worse, the climate of hate promulgated by the Russian legislature and President Putin has led to increased violence against gay and trans people, including the recent formation of vigilante groups that use social media to entrap young Russian gays, then kidnap and torture them on film.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

The Russian government has made clear that it will stop at nothing to stamp out the gay and trans menace. At what point will the IOC and the world community say enough-is-enough?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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