Russian Sports Minister: Sochi Athletes Will Be Subject To Anti-Gay Laws

Mister_MutkoDespite recent assurances from the IOC that LGBT athletes competing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics would not be subject to Russia's anti-gay laws, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko warned today that athletes and visitors will not be given any special exemptions from the nation's anti-gay propaganda laws that make it a crime to spread "homosexual propaganda" to minors. According to AFP, Mutko remarked:

"The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but
about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors…

"No one is banning a sportsman with a
non-traditional sexual orientation from going to Sochi. But if he goes
out onto the street and starts to make propaganda, then of course he
will be brought to responsibility.

"As a sportsman, he should
respect the law of a country," Mutko added. "Come (to Sochi), but don't
get young people involved, don't make propaganda. This is what we are
talking about."

Mutko's statement comes a day after the U.S. Olympic Committee released a letter recalling the Olympic Charter's prohibition on discrimination of any kind. The letter also promised that the U.S. Olympic Committee would work closely with the IOC and U.S. State Department to ensure the safety of "every American in Sochi." The IOC, which previously secured assurances from "the highest level" of Russian government that LGBT athletes and vistors would be able to attend the Sochi games unmolested, has yet to comment on Mutko's statements. No doubt Mutko's imperative will impact how and if athletes attending the games will protest Russia's anti-gay laws. Previously, out gay speedskater Blake Skjellerup had pledged to wear a rainbow pin at the games to 'stand up for what he believes in.' It is unclear at this time how Mutko's remarks will affect the debate on boycotting Russian products and the games themselves.



  1. HadrenoughBS says

    Well, surprise, surprise…NOT. This not unexpected statement from the official Ruskies’ sports spokesman will go over like a turd in the IOC punch bowl. Let’s see them (and NBC) squirm their way outta this homophobic debacle. Yes, let the PR machines start working overtime. Hint: it won’t make any difference to the IOC and NBC buying into this homophobia from the USSR – oops, I mean – newly-democratic Russia.

  2. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “But if he goes out onto the street and starts to make propaganda”

    Oh, so that’s what I was doing back in the 1970s cruising Broad Street at 2:00am in morning.

  3. lukebrux says

    The IOC cannot guarantee anything, especially because Russia is willing to apply the law. Very intelligent move to arrest the tourists…

  4. Jay says

    The IOC must move the Winter Games to a civilized country that respects human rights. I suggest they return to Vancouver, which has all the venues left over from the 2010 Games. Canada is a beacon for human rights.

  5. anon says

    Entirely predictable since these sports guys are actually politicians. Of course, now that he’s said this athletes and visitors can test the limits of this law and see how it goes over. I’m going to predict that the IOC will cave into the Russians and if any athlete is caught protesting they will be kicked out of the games and stripped of their medals. Visitors will be kicked out and barred from future Olympic games.

  6. Jake says

    Our laws set George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony free. We have our laws, Russia has theirs. This isn’t a paint your face “NoOn8″ situation. Gays aren’t loved enough to stop the Olympics.

  7. says

    Just moved the Games to any other suitable hosts. That way, they Sochi will have wasted all their efforts infrastructures and preparations for the games, not to mention all the hotels and local business’ loss.

  8. Mark says

    This is like a ticking time bomb. So you’re going to ask the entire world to remain silent while you persecute your own citizens.

    While we’re over there why don’t we just help them build giant convection ovens.

  9. andrew says

    The IOC must move the 2014 Olympic games to a civilized country. There are a whole lot of good alternatives. Moving the games would be a well deserved slap in the face, to that backward authoritarian country.

  10. Rich says

    From a culture that has done nothing but rape Eastern Europe, committed brazen acts of anti Semitism and other atrocities for the bulk of the 20th century you would expect nothing else. Dictator Putin has spoken and the last soviet, the original one follows in totalitarian obedience. I feel nothing but sadness and pity for GBLT Russians and hope they escape to the west at some point. Propaganda indeed, the Kremlin has a PhD in that one.

  11. reality says

    What exactly is propaganda? If an out athlete tweets “happy to be the first gay athlete to win the X sport” will he be arrested? Will he be arrested for holding his partner’s hand? None of this makes any sense whatsoever

  12. Lucas H says

    Is there still time to choose a better location? I hope so. Russia needs to me made aware that this is NOT okay, because they are clearly unable to recognize it in their own.

  13. Lucas H says

    Is there still time to choose a better location? I hope so. Russia needs to me made aware that this is NOT okay, because they are clearly unable to recognize it in their own.

  14. Geoff says

    Cold War ring a bell? This is discouraging and frightening. We’ve got to act decisively and quickly. Mere boycotts of Russian products aren’t enough. Political action is vital – for the Russian LGBT community – and the world at large.

  15. says

    Hate to break it to ya folks … Olympics will never be able to be moved. The Olympics is a profit-making corporation that receives millions of dollars from the host country in order to be the host for the games.

    The IOC is not about to say “Hey Russia. Here’s your $110 million dollar licensing fee back. Vancouver? Pony up.”

    As to the question of being caught holding hands or kissing your same gender partner in public? Yes. They will be arrested. .. and for wearing rainbow anything.

  16. northalabama says

    what many people hearing about these russian anti-gay laws fail to understand is how russia defines propaganda.

    from what little i’ve read that’s been reported, wearing a simple rainbow pin, openly admitting you’re gay, or even discussing homosexuality makes you guilty, and subject to fines and arrest.

    if the anoc, ioc, usoc, and nbc don’t get their collective hands around this quickly, there’s enough time between now and then for those opposed to the anti-gay laws to be very loud.

    a vodka and caviar ban is only a beginning. why wait for bureaucracy to never act? i started with an email to ms. gunilla lindberg, secretary general, anoc.

  17. Kumicu says

    Unfortunately the IOC is not U.S., it’s international. So the U.S. has little influence on the IOC. As much as I would hate to punish the athletes, the U.S. needs to withdraw. If other countries follow, then maybe the IOC will relocate…But that is very unlikely.

  18. Joseph2 says

    Since it’s highly unlikely that the Sochi games will be boycotted or moved, I hope there are athletes brave enough to not only come out but make a strong demonstration against these evil laws and risk being arrested, thus showing the whole world how terroristic the Russian government is. Sure, it would be great if they did it while accepting a medal, but think about if they got arrested before they could even compete, getting thrown in jail just for holding their boyfriend’s hand and thus Russia’s laws dashed, say, New Zealand’s hope of winning a medal for speed skating. Both scenarios would be front page news around the world.

  19. Jack M says

    Time to boycott the Olympics. The lack of revenue will hurt them more than pouring Stoli down the drain.

  20. Line In The Sand says

    Russia has been completely misjudged by the world and the IOC. It seemed they were much more civilized and attempting to turn things around internally. NOT turn back the clock to Nazi Europe.

    The idea that the law is to be used to protect anyone from “propaganda” is a cover for the Russian authorities. Such laws were in place in Nazi occupied nations because it’s easy for them to prove propaganda and extremely difficult for you to disprove it. This isn’t protecting anyone, nor is that the true intent, it’s about giving power tripping political authorities a justified reason for their behavior. It all sounds TOO familiar. Is the world really going down that path a second time? Is the US and the IOC really going to be okay with it? If you think the stopping point is when GLBT citizens are driven undergroud, you ARE mistaken. This is the beginning of a test for Russia, to see what the world will allow.

    Next is the issue of safety for not just homosexuals but all attendees. If you even accidently do something they can mislabel then you’ll pay the price. Who in the civilized world is used to constantly monitoring their own actions. That the IOC can support the blatant “line in the sand” drawn by Vitaly Mutko that GLBT individuals should be treated to a higher standard than the average person is damning to their commitee. Who is expected to purchase air time on the network to support this behavior, who are the sponsors?

  21. jjose712 says

    Kumicu: Don’t make me laugh, USA has influence in everything.
    A different thing is if american olympic really cares about this.

    The olympics (and the world cup) keep chosing non democratic countries as host. In China it worked (but China is a country that is slowly opening) but sooner or later that will explode in Fifa’s or COI’s faces.

    A boycott will only damages the athletes interest. What the Olympics need to do in threaten to send the 2014 Olympic’s games to other place, but they will not do that for sure

  22. jjose712 says

    The only way a boycott will be really effective it’s being massive. If USA, Canada and european countries boycott the games, the games will be a complete faliure

  23. Hey Darlin' says

    Well it sounds like Russia certainly isn’t concerned about their appearance. I don’t look for safety at the Olympics. Russia isn’t controlled by the political parties anyhow, they are controlled by the people with billions of dollars on one end and the neo-nazi’s on the other. Neither of which is influenced by the goverment in any major way. Even if they had promised safety for everyone attending, I would never trust it.

  24. Axel Kraemer says

    As troubling and disturbing this is, we may not forget that in 1996 when the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, GA, the co-called sodomy law was still in effect in many US states including Georgia.

  25. tcw says

    Canada’s FM is speaking out. Where’s Kerry?

    “As concerned as we are about the Olympics, that’s nothing. That’s two, three, four weeks for the athletes and participants and the visitors. This mean-spirited and hateful law will affect all Russians 365 days of the year, every year. It is an incitement to intolerance, which breeds hate.”

  26. Stephen says

    Our world is a mess. I am glad I grew up in 70’s and 80’s. Its ALL downhill from here on out

  27. Stephen says

    Our world is a mess. I am glad I grew up in 70’s and 80’s. Its ALL downhill from here on out

  28. Jeff says

    I guarantee the IOC will not punish Russia by taking away the Olympics. The IOC needs their money. They don’t care about casualties. Note the Nazi Olympics 1936. History repeating itself that’s all.

  29. Keith says

    The annoying thing is this is not a sudden development and plenty of places including all of scandinavia could host the Winter olympics easily. It is 1936 again. They were happy to do the Natzi salute as well!

  30. Kev C says

    I wonder if Chechens will be bombing Russian sporting events like they bombed American sporting events. But they’re worried about rainbow flags.

  31. johnny says

    Let them arrest people. I hope tons of athletes and others go out into the streets and MARCH while they’re over there.

    Then, the idiots in charge can start harassing and arresting athletes and their friends and see where that gets them. The more people that go out and march, hold hands, hold kiss-ins, wear rainbow everything, the more the entire world will watch as Russia digs itself deeper and deeper and Putin looks like a fool.

    I am all for the games moving forward and TONS of people flaunt the law and show those assholes who they are.

  32. Jeff says

    Boycott Coke. Boycott NBC. Boycott McDonalds. Boycott all Olympic advertisers send a message that it won’t be the moneymaker for the advertisers and we will send a message to the IOC as to who is in control.

  33. Ryan says

    The time to boycott Sochi is over.

    It is not time for us to demand the IOC cancel Sochi. It simply isn’t safe there now and the IOC has a duty to only host games in countries where it’s safe for anyone attending.

  34. gomez says

    this is getting worse by the day. there will be pro-gay protests at the olympics, and the russians, both gov’t and citizen thugs will double down on the brutality…it’s gonna be a nightmare.

  35. Dearcomrade says

    Two questions to ask:

    1)What will the Russians do when a gold metal winner takes to the stage and exchanges a kiss with the silver and bronze winners of the same sex in front of the world?

    2)How many athletes will have the courage to do it?

  36. Dearcomrade says

    Two questions to ask:

    1)What will the Russians do when a gold metal winner takes to the stage and exchanges a kiss with the silver and bronze winners of the same sex in front of the world?

    2)How many athletes will have the courage to do it?

  37. Bill says

    Mutko said, “”No one is banning a sportsman with a non-traditional sexual orientation from going to Sochi. But if he goes out onto the street and starts to make propaganda, then of course he will be brought to responsibility.”

    One thing the IOC can do is to demand that the Russians provide a comprehensive lists of examples of what “making propaganda” is.

    Can you wear a rainbow pin or some other bit of jewelry or clothing as one skater wants to?

    Can you say you are gay if someone asks?

    Or do you have to participate in a demonstration, hand out leaflets for a circuit party or protest, or try to talk some 18 year old local into a tryst to get into trouble?

    A series of examples with an explanation for each would make the policy much more understandable to most people who have no idea as to what the Russians consider to be “propaganda” – most of us did not grow up in a country with two official newspapers, Isvestia (which means “news”) and Pravda (which means “truth”). That resulted in the Russian joke that there were no news in The Truth and no truth in The News.

  38. JT says

    This is quite the debacle isn’t it? The wrong decision by the IOC to hold the games in a country that has no value for human rights whatsoever is going to turn out bad for everyone gay who participates. With 6 months to go, there isn’t a way for the IOC to change venues. As much as we’d like to see that slap in the face, it isn’t going to happen. I don’t think it is unthinkable for gays or gay friendlies to disappear without a trace there. “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

  39. JNJ says

    White House seems pretty upset about Russia taking in Snowden, but doesn’t comment on Russia’s anti-gay law enforcement during the Olympics. Priorities.

  40. Queer Supremacist says

    Uncle Joe would be proud.

    Meanwhile, after the Olympics, this vile law will still be in place, and those breeder Russkies will still be an oppressor class worthy of extermination.

  41. jaragon says

    “Propaganda” is a very tricky term- that can mean anything from handing out pro-gay pamphlets to a gay couple holding hands- Russia is officially an anti-gay country- the Olympics should not be taking place there period.

  42. Kev C says

    Jaragon, the russian government isn’t being subtle, and you should expect them to apply the broadest definition of propaganda possible.

  43. greenfuzz says

    Why arn’t the gay leaders in this country allerting news sources and the major networks? I just don’t understand why they’re not getting the word out.

  44. Bill says

    @greenfuzz: maybe it is because, if they do alert news sources and the major networks, that would be considered propaganda and they’d be immediately thrown into jail. It is kind of hard to get the word out when you are arrested as soon as you open your mouth.

  45. Bill says

    Hey, one way to handle it is for the U.S. to temporarily open a consular office (consular premise) at the Olympics. The host nation (i.e., Russia) is not allowed to enter such premises, so we can use it to let gays visit and relax for a bit with the Russian police kept safely outside.

    You can try to sell it to the U.S. as “payback” over Mr. Snowdon.

    It would have a substantial library in the official office, with lots of narrow passages that dead end in dark corners.

    Sounds like the sort of thing John Waters would use in one of his films for shock value!

    Finally, for the Russian legal minds out there, what happens if someone wears a rainbow pin and says it isn’t to support gays, but is just a reminder that he works in San Francisco, lives in Marin County, and drives ever the Golden Gate Bride every day, where rainbows are painted on the
    entrances or exits of some tunnels. has the pictures.

  46. CZ 75 says

    The Russian anti gay law should be on books in US. Keep your homo propaganda in your bedrooms not in the news!

  47. Anonymous says

    If Russia does not give assurances that this law will not be enforced against participants in the Olympics, the event must be moved to an alternate venue or canceled. This is not about a “political statement,” it is about the safety of the athletes and other participants.

  48. Anonymous says

    If Russia wants it’s money back for cancellation, they should not get it. This money needs to cover the expense of cancellation or a the extra expenses of a late change of venue. This is standard law., if you breach a contract you don’t get your money back (except maybe if there’s anything left after the expenses of non-compliance are met).

  49. EJC says

    Right On!
    Back to Vancouver for 2014 !
    A boycot only hurts the athletes the games have to go on but somewhere else, Canada did a great job in Calgary as well, lets give our friends to the north a call, maybe something can be worked out, you can do a lot in 8 months if you only try!