You can totally be gay at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko. You just better not do anything that can be construed as “propaganda” in the presence of minors or you shall be “brought to responsibility.” Which doesn’t sound ominous…at all.
Referring to homosexuality only as “a non-traditional orientation” — apparently there’s no word for “gay” in Russian, at least as far as the government is concerned — Mutko told the R-Sport news agency (via AFP) that athletes won’t run into any trouble as long as they keep their gayness to themselves.
“The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors,” Mutko said. “No one is banning a sportsman with a non-traditional sexual orientation from going to Sochi. But if he goes out onto the street and starts to make propaganda, then of course he will be brought to responsibility.”
“As a sportsman, he should respect the law of a country,” Mutko added. “Come (to Sochi), but don’t get young people involved, don’t make propaganda. This is what we are talking about.”
Mutko’s comments come days after lawmaker Vitaly Milonov contradicted the International Olympic Committee with the news that Olympic athletes and spectators would not be exempt from the country’s law against “gay propaganda,” or rather “non-traditional orientation propaganda.”
“If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it,” Milonov said. “It doesn’t have the authority.”
The law stipulates that anyone found disseminating information about homosexuality to minors can be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156) as well as face 14 days of administrative arrest and eventual deportation. Two weeks ago, four Dutch filmmakers became the first foreign tourists arrested under the anti-propaganda law after they were found interviewing a teenager for a documentary on the state of LGBT rights in Russia. They have since been banned from Russia for three years.
A proposed boycott of the Sochi Olympics has been met with opposition by the Russian LGBT Network, openly gay Olympian Johnny Weir, and activist Nikolai Alekssev — who has instead endorsed a petition that would blacklist the lawmakers behind the anti-gay propaganda law from receiving entrance visas to the United States.
Meanwhile, speed skating gay Blake Skjellerup says he will be wearing a rainbow pin in Sochi, though there’s no word if Milonov, Mutko, Putin et al will consider that “making propaganda.” We guess as long as he’s not within indoctrinating distance of any kids, he should be fine.