2013-08-02 13:17:00

Russian 'gay propaganda' ban will apply to Sochi Olympics guests and athletes (corrected)

*** Several athletes have already announced their readiness to show up for the Opening Ceremony holding flags and symbols of the LGBT community

Moscow, August 2, Interfax - Russia's new law banning gay propaganda must not be violated even during the Olympic Games on Sochi but representatives of the LGBT community should not be punished for their sexual orientation alone, Igor Ananskikh, deputy chairman of the State Duma's Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Policy Committee, told Interfax on Friday.

"The Olympic Games is a major international event. We need to be as polite and tolerant as possible," he said.

"The law came into force and cannot be neutralized, however, individuals with unconventional sexual orientation can also be participants of the Olympiad. But under the law they will be unable to engage in propaganda, otherwise they will be punished in line with Russian legislation," he said.

"Russia plans to host large international competitions in the future. The atmosphere at them must be as safe and polite as possible," Ananskikh said.

For his part, Nikolay Alexeyev, a leader of the Russian LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, told Interfax that several athletes have already announced their readiness to show up for the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi holding flags and symbols of the LGBT community.

Vitaly Milonov, the chairman of the St. Petersburg parliament's legislation committee and author of the city's 'gay propaganda' ban, said earlier he saw no reason not to apply this law to foreign competitors and spectators at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games on Sochi.

"I have not heard the Russian government's comments, but I know that it [the government] acts in accordance with Russian laws. And if this law was adopted by the Federal Assembly and was signed by the president, the government has not right to cancel it. It is simply not authorized to do so," Milonov told Interfax.

"I think that every normal athlete and every fan comes to the Olympic Games to support his national team and see beautiful sport. They do not come there to violate laws of the host country," he said.