Russian podium kiss an apparent defiance of anti-gay law
Public display of affection comes after female runners win 4x400 gold at Moscow event
Russian athletes Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova shared a kiss on the winners' podium at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on the weekend amid the controversy over their country's new anti-gay law.
The public display of affection was caught on camera Saturday after the pair won the women's 4X400 metres relay gold medal at the World Athletics Championships.
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The move appeared to violate a Russian law passed in June, banning gay and lesbian "propaganda."
The women later denied that the kiss was anything but congratulatory.
"The storm of emotions going through us was incredible," said Ryzhova, according to The Associated Press. "And if we, accidentally, while congratulating each other, touched lips, excuse me. We think the whole fuss is more of a sick fantasy not grounded in anything."
On Thursday, another Russian athlete made headlines over the law. Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva spoke out against allowing the promotion of gay rights, referring to a Swedish athlete who posted a picture of her painted fingernails on social media site Instagram.
"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people," Isinbayeva said.
She later claimed she was misunderstood and that she doesn't discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Swedish higher jumper Emma Green Tregaro had painted her nails the colours of the rainbow to support gay rights at the event. She later painted them all red before taking to the field on Saturday, saying that's the colour of love.
The anti-gay law appears to have the widespread support of the Russian people, but has sparked growing international criticism and has left some observers wondering what opponents, namely competing athletes, may be planning when Russia hosts the Olympic Games in February.
The new law bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors."
Konstantin Yablonskiy, co-chair of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation, told CBC News on Sunday that he doesn't support a boycott of the Winter Olympics.
"It's not a constructive way to solve such a problem," he said.
Instead, Yablonskiy is calling on athletes to show solidarity in Sochi for gay rights and equality by holding hands with someone of the same sex during the opening ceremonies walk into the stadium. He said they can also wear rainbow stickers and pins.