Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov says Olympic city has no gays

The mayor of Sochi, the city hosting next month's Winter Olympics in Russia, says there are no gay people in his city.
All evidence to the contrary, Olympic site mayor says there are no gay people in his city 2:24

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."

Watch

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

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

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.