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.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    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.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora