Russian president Vladimir Putin says gay visitors will be welcome at the Sochi Olympics next month, but should “leave children in peace.”
Speaking to a group of volunteers, Putin talked the controversial and vague anti-gay laws that have become a major issue over the last few months.
Here’s what he said (via the Guardian):
“We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships. We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to underline this. Propaganda among children. These are absolutely different things — a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing.”
“We are not forbidding anything and nobody is being grabbed off the street, and there is no punishment for such kinds of relations. You can feel relaxed and calm [in Russia], but leave children alone please.”
R-Sport and other Russian outlets are reporting essentially the same translation of the comments.
Putin made the statement in Russian. Here’s the video, if you want to get a sense of his tone:
A ban on “the propaganda on that thing” is still vague enough to make you question whether or not athletes or fans could be prosecuted for openly protesting the law and making pro-gay statements.
The U.S. has sent a delegation full of prominent gay athletes, which many people viewed as an affront to Putin.
While one U.S. Olympic executive has warned athletes not to protest to Sochi, it would only take one brave athlete to cause a potential firestorm.
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