Russia 'pledges not to discriminate against gay people at Olympics'

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The International Olympic Committee has received "strong" promises from the Russian authorities "that there will be no discrimination" against homosexuals participating at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the committee's president said on Friday.

"We have received strong oral but also written reassurances that there will be no discrimination for the people who will attend the games in Sochi," Mr Jacques Rogge said at a press conference during a visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York.

"We are being comforted by the fact that the Russian federation agrees to respect the Olympic charter," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stoked international outrage in June by signing into law a ban on the promotion or display of homosexual behavior in front of minors.

Foreigners risk a fine of up to 100,000 rubles (S$3,800), up to 15 days in jail, and expulsion from the country.

Rights groups argue that the vaguely worded legislation is discriminatory.

The law has sparked international criticism and calls to boycott the Games, which are due to be held from Feb 7 to Feb 23, 2014.

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