Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, wants to reassure the global community that there will be no discrimination at the 2014 Winter Olympics. With International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in attendance, Putin swore that the Sochi Games would be tolerant of all.
“On my own and on your behalf, I have assured Mr. President (Bach) that we will do our best, and our athletes and fans will do their best too, so that both participants and guests feel themselves comfortable at Sochi Olympics regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation,” Vladimir Putin said via the Associated Press.
Putin’s remarks come at a time when human rights groups around the world call on his country to repeal a June law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” As the New York Times reports, that law allows Russian police to detain foreigners suspected of being gay or pro-gay for up to 14 days. In July, Putin signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples.
Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin vows that he and his government will abide by the IOC’s Charter, which describes the ability to compete as a right, saying that “every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind.” Many have called Russia’s legislation at odds with that philosophy, fearing outspoken gay athletes would face persecution at the Sochi Games in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
For his own part, Vladimir Putin—a Nobel Peace Prize nominee—has long maintained that people of “nontraditional sexual” orientation are not discriminated against and has said he is open to discussion with LGBT organizations. Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director for Human Rights Watch, isn’t convinced.
As is often the case here, it’s one step forward and two steps backward. So far no meeting with LGBT activists has been convened and there have been no efforts to have the heinous law repealed.
IOC President Bach, while holding comment on the human rights issues, was excited to see the work of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Olympic officials come to fruition.
“We are fully confident that the Games will be on a magnificent level,” Bach said via Reuters.
What do you think of Vladimir Putin’s reassurances? Does Vladimir Putin pose a threat to human rights? Will gay athletes face discrimination or worse in Vladimir Putin’s Russia?