Russia’s Interior Ministry has confirmed that the country will apply its new anti-LGBT law to guests and athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The new law makes spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors a criminal offense. Due its vague wording, a same-sex couple holding hands in public could be considered “propaganda” under the law.
“The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully,” said an Interior Ministry statement issued on Monday, according to RIA Novosti.
The law also allows for foreigners to be detained for up to 15 days and deported. But Russia’s Interior Ministry denied openly gay and lesbian guests and athletes faced a serious threat of arrest.
“Any discussion on violating the rights of representatives of nontraditional sexual orientations, stopping them from taking part in the Olympic Games or discrimination of athletes and guests of the Olympics according to their sexual orientation is totally unfounded and contrived,” the statement added.
Similar laws were first enacted in St. Petersburg and other cities before the nationwide law was approved. Vitaly Milanov, author of the St. Petersburg propaganda law, has said only “normal” athletes should they be allowed to participate in the Olympic games.
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