OSLO — Norway’s most high-profile openly gay politician will attend the Paralympic Games in Russia with his husband, despite the controversy surrounding Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.
Health Minister Bent Hoie said Monday he would bring his husband, Dag Terje Solvang, a senior advertising executive, to Sochi, Russia, when he attends the Paralympics, which will be held in March following the main Winter Olympic Games.
“I cannot wait to watch and support all the Norwegian athletes,” Hoie told the Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper. “These are athletes with disabilities who perform at a very high level.”
Hoeie said it is normal for a cabinet official to travel with a spouse on such an official visit.
“It’s natural to take Dag Terje along when attending this type of event,” he said. “Having said that, everyone understands what two married men think about gay rights.”
Bard Nylund, the leader of the Norwegian LGBT Association, called on Hoie to make a statement on gay rights.
“He should say something explicitly to his Russian colleagues if he gets the opportunity during his visit to Sochi,” Nylund said. “That much should be expected.”
Article continues belowHoie’s announcement comes following a nearly seven month global campaign by LGBT rights activists calling for a boycott of the Winter Olympics over passage of Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said publicly that the law is intended to protect young people and not discriminate against gays.
But many western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron have declined to attend, and are instead sending lower level officials in their place. The U.S. is sending three openly gay athletes as part of its delegation.
Gay rights activists claim that Russia’s anti-gay law has contributed to an increase in anti-LGBT violence in Russia, casting a shadow over the $50 billion games.