Putin Vows To Let Gay Olympians Be Molested In Peace
Moscow, January 19 – Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to mounting criticism of his country’s treatment of homosexuals, promising that the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi will not be marred by official mistreatment of gays and lesbians. Putin affirmed his commitment to his hands-off policy, under which Moscow will not interfere with non-governmental efforts to make homosexuals’ lives miserable.
In June, Putin signed into law a provision making it illegal to engage in the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations,” prompting both an upsurge in anti-gay incidents and in protests against the measure. In the run-up to the Olympics, scheduled to run in Sochi, Russia, from February 7-23, tensions between Moscow and other countries have risen over questions of the host country’s treatment of homosexual athletes from visiting delegations, and over its treatment of its own gay and lesbian population. Putin sought to allay the fears of the visitors, assuring them that no government officials would be involved in any persecution of homosexuals during the Olympics.
“The Russian Republic respects the integrity of the Olympic Games as a forum for promoting tolerance among nations,” the President said in a statement issued by the Kremlin. “It would be entirely inappropriate for us to assert our methods of suppressing the promotion of non-traditional lifestyles when each delegation should be free to to do so in its own way.” The statement did note that as the Olympics also function as a way to showcase local culture on the world stage, Moscow would allocate separate time and space to allow the local population to determine on its own how gays are mistreated.
The Ministry of the Interior has already ruled out the use of internment or extermination camps, calling them too costly in terms of money and manpower. Protests against the official position on homosexual activity have marred the preparations for the games, challenging the Ministry’s resources. The Kremlin’s pronouncement putting the reins of homosexual persecution in the hands of local activists will enable the Ministry to free up those resources for security and other important efforts.