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SBD Global/August 19, 2013/Olympics

Russian Sports Minister Mutko Says Anti-Gay Law Controversy An 'Invented Problem'

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that "the controversy over Russia's law banning the promotion of homosexuality is an 'invented problem' focused on by Western media," according to Justin Palmer of REUTERS. The law, which parliament passed in June, bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. At a news conference before the start of the final day of the 2013 IAAF World Championships, Mutko said, "We don't have a law to ban non-traditional sexual relations. The mass media in the West have focused much more on this law more than they do in Russia." Critics of the anti-propaganda law have said that "it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals." Mutko said that "the law was intended to protect Russian children." Mutko: "We want to protect our younger generation whose physicality has not been formulated. It is a law striving to protect rights of children -- and not intended to deprive anybody of their private life" (REUTERS, 8/18).

UNDER PRESSURE: ITV reported the IOC "is facing calls to remove pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva from her ambassadorial role after she spoke out in support of Russia's controversial laws on homosexuality." Isinbayeva "criticised two Swedish athletes for making statements against Russia's new law, which makes it illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality" (ITV, 8/16). The AFP reported Isinbayeva "attempted to play down the furore provoked by her anti-gay remarks, saying she was 'misunderstood' and was opposed to any discrimination against homosexuals." The 31-year-old issued a statement saying she was "opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality." She said she "may have been misunderstood" as English is not her first language (AFP, 8/17).
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Olympics, Russia

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