News / Europe

Putin Signals Gay Rights Debate Must Not Cloud Games

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Sochi, Feb. 7, 2014.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Sochi, Feb. 7, 2014.
Reuters
President Vladimir Putin made clear on Friday that he believed the Sochi Winter Olympics were not the place to debate Russia's treatment of gays.
 
Putin used a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country has criticized Russia on gay rights, to underline the message that politics and sport should not be mixed.
 
“I know you always give much attention to humanitarian issues and adherence to human rights,” Putin told Rutte in Sochi, shortly before the Games opening ceremony. “We are always open to discussion.”
 
But the Russian leader added that he had seen a television report in which he said a man in a gay club in the Black Sea resort told journalists: “Leave us alone. Sport is sport. The Olympics are the Olympics. Let's focus.”
 
“The less aggression there is over [gay rights] from both sides, the better,” he quoted the person as saying.
 
“I second the assessment that this person made in every way,” Putin said.
 
The Sochi Games are vital to Putin's legacy and he has staked his personal and political reputation on their success, but he faces an outcry abroad over a law banning the spread of “gay propaganda” among minors.
 
Putin says the law is needed to defend young people. Critics say it curtails the rights of homosexuals, and gay rights activists say it is fuelling anti-gay violence in Russia.
 
Putin says Russia does not discriminate against homosexuals and will not do so during the Olympics, but he was booed on a trip to the Netherlands last year.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German President Joachim Gauck are not attending the Games, and the U.S. delegation includes openly gay representatives.
 
Rutte decided to attend the Games despite a petition signed by 38,000 people protesting against the high-level Dutch delegation, which includes King Willem-Alexander, and in spite of boycott calls by Dutch gay rights defenders.
 
Rutte said last month that his country had concerns about the humans rights situation in Russia but that it was better to engage in dialog than stage a boycott.
 
His visit follows a difficult year in relations with Russia, including the assault of a Dutch diplomat in Moscow by attackers who scrawled the letters LGBT - standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender - in pink lipstick on his hall mirror.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 07, 2014 12:47 PM
Has the winter Olympics turned sex Olympics? What is this thing about sex and gay issues at the games? I think the people are there to take part in games not sex. Who is making all this noise? People should know that this a devilish propaganda by the Devil himself using people who must not let others hear anything else but sex and sensuality. This is horrible! What happens to decorum? What about morality? Why are people not discussing essential things that sustain life and living, why is it sex all the time? We see hand of the Beast in it; don't know what you see or who you are. 666, 999, the antichrist?

by: Casandra Lee from: US
February 07, 2014 11:00 AM
"Putin Signals Gay Rights Debate Must Not Cloud Games..." - Idiot.

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