The Sochi Olympics are fast approaching, and many people are still worried about the safety of both competitors and spectators. In addition to the usual threats of terrorism, there has also been concern over how gay athletes and visitors might be treated. Last year, Russia put forth a law that banned “homosexual propaganda” and gay rights rallies.
On Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin assured the public that no group of people will be discriminated against based on their sexual preference or cultural beliefs — as long as they stay away from children.
“We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships,” Putin told Olympic volunteers, via The Guardian. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to underline this. Propaganda among children. These are absolutely different things – a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing.
“We are not forbidding anything and nobody is being grabbed off the street, and there is no punishment for such kinds of relations. You can feel relaxed and calm [in Russia], but leave children alone please.”
Putin added that Russia is a traditional country and claimed that some other countries have discussed the legalization of pedophilia, which is not something Russia will stand for. He did not specify which countries he was referring to.
“What, are we supposed to follow along like obedient lapdogs, towards whatever consequences await?” Putin added. “We have our own traditions, our own culture. We have respect for all of our international partners and ask that they also respect our own traditions and culture.”
Last month, British Olympic diver Tom Daley came out as gay and received full support from the Amateur Swimming Association. We certainly hope the world has moved beyond making a person’s sexual preference an issue during the Olympics.