Putin speaking with Olympic volunteers in Sochi earlier today (Photo: AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has added to the controversy surrounding the potential treatment of gay and lesbian travellers to next month’s Winter Olympic Games with a new set of contentious remarks, reports AP.
While attempting to ease concerns over enforcement of Russia’s laws against what it calls “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” Putin said that gay visitors would not face discrimination during their stay — so long as they do not share their views on the subject with minors.
The comments were made earlier today to a reporter in Sochi, which will host the Olympics in 20 days. Putin insisted that Russia's laws, harshly criticized by both domestic and international social justice activists, are designed to protect children.
"We have no ban on nontraditional sexual relations," Putin said. “We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors.”
The Russian president continued, "one can feel relaxed and at ease, but please leave the children in peace."
The comments are the most recent example of controversial remarks made by Russian and Olympic officials about gay rights and the Games. On Thursday's Debrief, George addressed another such comment, this time coming from International Olympic Committee member Mario Pescante, who accused the US of playing politics with the makeup of its official delegation (the relevant section starts around the 4:53 mark):