Sochi Mayor: I Don’t Think We Have Any Gays
The mayor of Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics will be held next month, says no gay people live in the city, which has a population of 343,000, the BBC reports.
"It's not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city," Anatoly Pakhomov told BBC in an interview.
Pakhomov said people of the LGBT community are welcome to the Olympics as long as they respect Russia's infamous and controversial "homosexual propaganda" law, which aims to ban "non-traditional" relationships, claiming that they harm children.
Despite the mayor's statements, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, former Deputy Prime Minister, says there are gay bars in Sochi.
"Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and doesn't impose their habits on others," Pakhomov, a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party told the BBC.
When he was asked whether gay people had to hide their sexuality while in Sochi, he said, "No, we just say that it is your business, it's your life. But it's not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city."
When discussing the issue further, the mayor said he wasn't sure if there were gay people in Sochi.
"I am not sure, but I don't bloody know them," Pakhomov said.
Nemtsov said the mayor's statements are laughable.
"As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi," he told the BBC. "How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?"
Olympic officials told the BBC that they are working to make the event remembered for its diversity.