Russian Official: Gov. Can’t Suspend Anti-Gay Law During Olympics

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday July 30, 2013

Although officials from the International Olympic Committee have assured that fans and athletes attending the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi would not be subjected to Russia's anti-gay law, a Russian official who co-sponsored the measures says the law cannot be suspended during the event and will be enforced, according to the BBC.

Vitaly Milonov, the politician who created the "homosexual propaganda" law in St. Petersburg, Russia, last year, which was adopted by the rest of the country last month, said the controversial law will be enforced during the 2014 Olympics. Milonov's comments come shortly after the IOC said they have received "assurances from the highest level" of Russian government that athletes and fans will not be impacted by the law.

"I haven't heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law," Milonov said in an interview with Interfax, a Russian non-governmental news agency. "And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn't have the authority."

As Gay Star News reports, the lawmaker defended the law in the interview and said the measure is "defending children from the propaganda of non-traditional values" and has nothing to do with "the ordinary life of adults."

The controversial measure, which sparked a boycott against the Olympics and popular Russian vodkas by LGBT activists and supporters, was signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30. The vaguely worded measure allows the government to fine and arrest people who share information on the LGBT community with minors. "Pro-gay" foreigners can also be detained for two weeks before being expelled from the country.

In related news, there is a new White House petition, urging the U.S. to put State Duma Deputy Elena Mizulina and Milonov on the visa ban list for "their role in creating Russia's ban on 'gay propaganda.' " As of this writing, the petition has more than 3,000 signatures. It needs 10,000 signatures in total, however, by Aug. 25 for consideration by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Openly gay U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir spoke out against the boycott on the Olympics and said that the boycott would only hurt the athletes.

"To have a boycott would not only negate the career of some athletes who have only one chance at competing at the Games, but also the overtime shifts an exhausted father takes to make ends meet, or the social acclimatization of a brother who can't go on spring break because his brother needed another costume, or the mother who works part-time at a job far beneath her, just so she can afford to watch her first born perform for the world," Weir wrote in an Op-Ed for the Falls Church News-Press. "The Olympics are not a political statement, they are a place to let the world shine in peace and let them marvel at their youthful talents."

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