Sochi Mayor Says There Are No Gays in City, Homosexuality Not Accepted
"We do not have them in our city," Pakhomov flatly told the BBC.
Pressed further, the mayor backtracked a bit: "I am not sure, but I don't bloody know them."
Sochi is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Russia faced massive criticism for passing laws that ban “gay propaganda." Many gay rights groups called for a boycott of the Olympics, and President Barack Obama is sending openly gay athletes to represent America at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Pakhomov said gays are more than welcome to visit his city, but asked they respect Russia cultures and laws.
"Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and does not impose their habits on others," he said.
Drag queen Madame Zhu-Zha, though, said there is a gay community in Sochi.
"There are very many clubs for gay people in Moscow — in Sochi we have two gay clubs as well. In some places there's serious prejudice against gay people. In other places it's not as bad," the performer said.
In mid-January, President Vladimir Putin said gay people will be as secure as everyone else, but asked them to please leave the children alone. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak also said gay athletes can do what they want in their private life, but asked them to not involve children.