An official from St. Petersburg, Russia has declared that the country’s new anti-LGBT laws will apply to guests and athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In an interview with The Echo of Moscow radio, Vitaly Milanov, author of the St. Petersburg “anti-LGBT propaganda law,” said that he has no reason to suspect that guests and athletes will be granted exceptions under the rule. He also went on to vouch for the sterling heterosexual credentials of the men of Russia’s figure skating team.
While the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Friday, “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games,” Milonov said that he didn’t know where the person making the statement got the authority to flout national law. Nor, he said, should athletes expect to be able to openly express their sexuality if it deviates from what Russia has deemed to be the “traditional,” i.e., heterosexual model.
Milanov told the Echo (via Google Translate) that the anti-LGBT law “applies to the whole of the Russian federation” and that even “(i)f you run well,” he said, “it does not mean that you can seduce children.”
When the Echo correspondent asked Milanov about the possibility of LGBT tourists at the games, he replied, “Are we saying that some people can seduce children and some can not? I think that no one should seduce children. Therefore, the law can not be overruled by government decree. Federal law applies to the whole territory of the Russian Federation, and nobody has the right to suspend it.”
Milanov went on to say that while the government may say it’s fine for LGBT athletes to compete, “It will not be so fine.” Only if the athlete is “normal,” he said, should they be allowed to participate in the Olympic games. LGBT athletes, he said, are not strong because their orientation excuses their weakness. “I am running bad,” he claimed the athletes will say, “because I am not a man and not a woman.”
The Echo interviewer pointed out that there are many openly gay champion male figure skaters, to which Milanov replied, “You know, I can tell you that the best figure skating is the Soviet school of figure skating. We have a completely traditional team. I am personally acquainted with many Olympic champions. Not only that, I actually grew up among these families. And I can say that this is not the case. Russian figure skaters are perfectly normal people, interesting, traditional people with large families.”
As part of its statement on Friday, the IOC said, “The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.”
[image of Vitaly Milanov via Wikipedia]