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Russian lawmaker says anti-gay law must be enforced during Winter Olympics

Monday, July 29, 2013
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MOSCOW — A leading member of the legislative assembly of the city and region around St. Petersburg, Russia, and a co-author of the national law signed last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin which criminalizes public displays of affection between same-sex couples and events that promote gay rights, is urging the Putin administration to “refrain from selective enforcement” of the legislation.

Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov

Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov told Russian media outlets Interfax and Radio Ekho Moskvy (Radio Echo of Moscow) in separate interviews that he was opposed to any maneuvers by the government that would effectively suspend enforcement of the law, which he said would apply to the guests and athletes of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

“I haven’t heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law,” saild Milonov. “And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.”

Milonov’s remarks follow an announcement Friday by the International Olympic Committee that it had received “assurances from the highest level” of the Russian government that athletes and spectators attending the the 2014 winter games would be exempt from the anti-gay statue that outlaws “homosexual propaganda.”

Nina Long, co-president of RUSA LGBT, a Russian-speaking LGBT organization based in New York, said last month that “LGBT people in Russia are scared, they live in fear, and we want people to be aware of this issue. If they feel strongly about human rights they should boycott the Olympics in Sochi.”

Lyudmila Alexeeva, founder of the Helsinki Group, a Moscow-based human rights organization, said that the situation with the rights of homosexuals is worse today than in the West, although better than it was in the Soviet Union.

A White House petition created Sunday asks the Obama administration to bar Milonova, along with his co-author of the law, State Duma deputy Elena Mizulina, from ever receiving a visa to enter the United States.

The Russian government so far has declined to issue a statement related to the Olympic committee’s announcement or the ongoing controversy.

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