Vladimir Putin Denies Russia Has Anti-Gay Laws, Says Rainbow Flags Won’t Be Punished in Sochi

As part of a wide-ranging interview with the AP which also covered Syria and Edward Snowden, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the idea that Russia has anti-gay laws and said shows of gay rights support would not be met with punishment at the Sochi Games:

PutinOn another topic, he denied at length charges that Russia has anti-gay policies, indicating that Obama was welcome to meet with gay and lesbian activists in Russia during his visit. He even said he might meet with a similar group himself if there is interest from the gay community in Russia.

Putin also dismissed criticism of laws banning "gay propaganda" and said Olympic athletes would be safe to express their views:

He also said that athletes and activists would not be punished if they raise rainbow flags or paint their fingernails in rainbow colors at the Feb. 7-23 Olympics.

But he clearly has no intention of allowing a gay pride parade or other such actions: Last month, Putin signed a decree banning all demonstrations and rallies in Sochi throughout the Winter Games.

Of gays, Putin added:

"I assure you that I work with these people. I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields. We have absolutely normal relations, and I don't see anything out of the ordinary here. They say that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a homosexual. Truth be told, we don't love him because of that, but he was a great musician, and we all love his music. So what?"

Obama is on his way to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg later this week. He is said to have plans to meet with LGBT rights groups while he is there.


  1. says

    Guyz, this is a huge breakthrough. MONUMENTAL BREAKTHROUGH. Equality is achieved with information and Putin is saying he wants to sit in on those discussions. Backing down and allowing LGBT supportive insignia at Sochi couldn’t have gone over well with the hard line bigots in his administration but he realized the nightmare of adverse publicity if something were to have gone wrong, as it probably would have. He’s seeing that LGBT equality has support worldwide and that it’s not just Western world liberalism. Putin is doing the very thing we hoped for so let’s dial back the anger, think logically, and get ready to engage both in a show of support and in the discussions on how LGBT equality is both beneficial and necessary for Russian democracy in the XXI century.

    The Sochi Olumpics can become the Equality Games where ‘Gay is Normal’ can be broadcast to a worldwide audience. That’s what we fought for so now let’s set about making it work to bring about equality not only to Russian LGBT but to as many of the other 76 countries where LGBT are still oppressed as possible.

  2. Paul R says

    I agree with Seriously. He wouldn’t have said these things even a month ago. If only to avoid a PR, financial, or other disaster, he has to toe the global move toward equality. And yes, dictators often lie, and he could easily reverse course over the Olympics. But he spoke the words and will be held to them or lose even more of his international stature.

    I’m quite sure the hard liners are pissed, just as I’m sure they had no idea what kind of hornet’s nest they were stirring up when they pushed these laws. It irritates the hell out of the nationalists, but Russia can’t afford to alienate the West with divisive actions like this. Isolation is expensive, and I doubt the US or any other major Western economy would consider engaging in a second cold war. They’d just ignore Russia.

  3. AriesMatt says

    Looks like the protests are starting to work. Glad to see Putin made a statement and addressed the issue head on, if only partially. The true test will be what happens after the games.

  4. northalabama says

    putin says rainbow flags will be allowed at olympic games in sochi only after ioc says they’re not allowed to be displayed by the athletes. coincidence? i think no.

    and remember, those uppity russian gays still cannot have a parade. to protect the children, of course.

    gotta give putin credit for saying these things without laughing, and gay russians credit for listening to them without crying.

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