Russian Lawmaker Vitaly Milonov: Gay Athletes, Tourists Will Be Arrested At The Sochi Winter Olympics
By Anne Lu | July 31, 2013 4:21 PM EST
Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov has said that the country will arrest gay athletes and tourists at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014. The politician, a co-sponsor of the "non-traditional relationships" bill in the country, said their government should not decide when to enforce the law.
On June 30, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into a law a provision that bans gay propaganda in the country. It allows the government to arrest or detain gay or even pro-gay tourists for two weeks before they are deported. Those who break the law may also be fined up to $30,000.
With the Winter Olympics happening in February 2014, the International Olympic Committee has assured the public by saying that foreign athletes and visitors to Sochi for the event would not be targeted by the anti-gay law.
"The International Olympic Committee is clear that a sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation," the IOC said in a statement earlier in July. "The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media, and of course, athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle."
However, Mr Milonov said that the government cannot choose a time when to enforce the law.
"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," he said in an interview with Interfax, as translated by GSN.
Mr Milonov was the official that proposed the law prohibiting "gay propaganda" in St Petersburg, which had begun the nationwide ban.
A petition to ban Mr Milonov and Elena Mizulina, the State Duma deputy responsible for the federal law, from entering the U.S. has been launched on the Whitehouse petition Web site, but Mr Milonov isn't worried as he has the support of many American politicians.
"I get word of such things from time to time. I absolutely don't get nervous about this subject," he told RIA Novosti.
"Having spoken with many American politicians, I understand that they support the stance I've taken on this issue. Such support has also been expressed to me by several members of German parliament."
Meanwhile, gay bars in Australia, Canada, the U.S., and the UK are protesting Russia's implementation of their anti-gay law by banning Russian vodka from their menu.
The Winter Olympic Games will be held in Sochi, Russia from Feb 7 to 23, 2014.
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