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Gay people should feel comfortable at the Sochi Olympics but “leave the children in peace,” Putin said.
Russian laws do not criminalize homosexual relations unlike in some other countries, Putin told a group of Winter Olympic volunteers in the mountain village of Krasnaya Polyana.
“We prohibit nothing and grab no one, there’s no responsibility for those relations unlike in the other countries,” Putin said.
He mentioned several US states as an example and assured that in Russia everyone might feel “relaxed” as gay sex is not criminalized in the country.
Sparking a world wide controversy in June last year, Putin signed into law a bill forbidding the promotion of homosexuality to minors.
The law’s proponents in Russia argue it is aimed at protecting children from harmful influence, while critics allege the move restricts freedom of speech and is part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
In a state of the nation address last month, Putin pledged to defend traditional family values.
“This destruction of traditional values from above not only entails negative consequences for society, but is also inherently anti-democratic because it is based on an abstract notion and runs counter to the will of the majority of people,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, in December last year, gay rights activists in the world’s largest democracy were also in for a major setback when the top Court of India held that homosexuality between two consenting adults “under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is illegal and will continue to be an offence”.
In Moscow on Thursday, Putin however insisted that there would be no discrimination on any criteria during the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.
He has previously said that Russia will “do everything” to ensure a warm welcome for Sochi guests “regardless … of sexual orientation”.
Earlier last year, the International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over the Russian law banning gay propaganda, saying it doesn’t violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause, and pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games.
TBP and Agencies