Russia came under fire when the country banned “gay propaganda,” but President Vladimir Putin assured gays they will be safe when they travel to Sochi to the 2014 Winter Olympics during a meeting with volunteers for the games. There was only one stipulation: Leave the children alone.
“We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations between people,” Putin told a group of volunteers who will be working at the Games.
“We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia,” Putin said in televised comments from host city Sochi, with three weeks to go until the event.
“We don’t ban anything and we won’t arrest anyone,” he said. “Therefore you can feel calm, relaxed. But leave children alone please.”
He is not the only one to say this.
“His rhetoric echoed that of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who in Sochi last year said that gay athletes could ‘get on with their private life… but not involved children.'”
After the law was passed, many gay activist groups pressured others to boycott the games. President Barack Obama chose not to send any acting officials and sent openly gay athletes to represent the United States at the opening and closing ceremonies. Putin told the volunteers there will not be any discrimination against athletes or visitors, but asked for visitors to respect Russia.
Putin on Friday urged respect for Russia’s “traditions and culture”.
“We treat all of our partners with respect and we ask them to also treat our traditions and culture with respect.”