The mayor of Sochi, the city hosting next month's Winter Olympics in Russia, says there are no gay people in his city.

In an interview with the BBC's program Panorama, Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov tells interviewer John Sweeney: "We just say that it is your business, it's your life. But it's not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city."


Nahlah Ayed's documentary on what it is like to be gay in today's Russia on The National Monday night on CBC-TV.

Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov

Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov tells the BBC program Panorama that there are no gays in his town. Still, they're welcome as guests at the Olympics, as long as they obey the law. (BBC)

Russia's stance on gay rights, including laws introduced last year to ban the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among children, has drawn strong criticism from the West and from gay rights groups in the run-up to the Games, casting a shadow over President Vladimir Putin's $50-billion showpiece event.

"Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and does not impose their habits on others," Pakhomov told the BBC.

Putin has defended his country's laws, saying Russia wasn't "going after" gay people.

In remarks to be broadcast on Monday, Pakhomov says gay people would be welcome at the Olympics, which begin on Feb. 7.

Sochi is home to a few gay clubs, but according to members of the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the scene is on the decline.

With files from Reuters