Russia warns against 'gay propaganda' during Winter Games

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Right) arrives with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak (Left) for a welcoming event for International Olympic Committee (IOC) members ahead of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics at the Rus Hotel on Feb 4, 2014 in Soch
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Right) arrives with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak (Left) for a welcoming event for International Olympic Committee (IOC) members ahead of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics at the Rus Hotel on Feb 4, 2014 in Sochi. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak on Thursday warned spectators and athletes against promoting gay rights during the Olympics, saying it was forbidden by the Olympic Charter and Russian law to spread propaganda during a sporting event. -- PHOTO: AFP

SOCHI, Russia (AFP) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak on Thursday warned spectators and athletes against promoting gay rights during the Olympics, saying it was forbidden by the Olympic Charter and Russian law to spread propaganda during a sporting event.

Amid a continued furore over Russia's new law which forbids the dissemination of "gay propaganda" to minors, Mr Kozak once again argued that there was no discrimination based on sexual orientation in Russia.

But he reminded participants in the Games that the law means it is not allowed to promote homosexuality among minors - a stipulation seen as vehemently homophobic by activists.

"We have no restrictions on citizens rights based on their sexuality. We are adults here and we can carry out our private lives as we deem necessary," he told reporters.

"They (gays) can make propaganda about their sexual orientation among adults. But there is no need to involve children. I have already said this many times," he said.

Despite the simmering controversy, Mr Kozak said he hoped there would be no "problems or conflicts" over the gay controversy during the opening, closing ceremonies or the sporting events themselves.

"Political propaganda during sporting events is forbidden by the Olympic charter and Russian law," he said.

One day ahead of the official opening of the Games, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had earlier made a powerful call for equality, saying "we must all raise our voices against attacks" on gays.

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