The mayor of the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi, soon to play host to the Winter Olympics, says there are no gay people in his city.
Anatoly Pakhomov, a member of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, says that gay people would be welcome at the games as long as they respect the laws of the Russian Federation and do not “impose their habits on others,” reported the BBC.
But when asked whether gay people had to hide their sexuality in Sochi, the mayor said: “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”
Boris Nemtsov, former Deputy Prime Minister and now a leader of the opposition, said the Pakhomov’s claim was laughable.
“As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi,” said Nemtsov. “How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?”
When challenged, the mayor admitted that he was not certain there were no gay people in Sochi: “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”
In September, the Associated Press profiled Sochi’s thriving gay scene.