Russian Official Says Gay Olympic Athletes Will Be Subject to Arrest
As the LGBT community ramps up its protest of Russia's recently enacted "gay propaganda" law, the lawmaker responsible for its existence released a statement saying Olympic athletes and tourists will be subject to its penalties.
Vitaly Milonov, the St. Petersburg politician who co-sponsored the bill that gave birth to the controversial ban, told Interfax that a Russian law, once approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, cannot be suspended.
"I have not heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation but I know it is acting in accordance with Russian law," Milonov told the news agency.
What this means, according to Huffinton Post's Gay Voices blog, is that all gay or pro-gay foreigners can be detained up to 14 days "before facing expulsion from the country."
The IOC last week released its own statement, saying it received assurances from the Russian government that 2014 Winter Olympics attendees will not be subject to arrest under Russia's anti-gay law.
"As a sporting organization," the statement continued, "what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media."
Human Rights Campaign CEO Chad Griffin dismissed the IOC's claims, telling NBCUniversal's CEO Stephen Burke [pdf] "there is no way to guarantee the safety and security of openly-LGBT Olympic visitors in a country now defined by this draconian state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia."
Additionally, the HRC noted that, while foreigners may be shielded from the law, LGBT Russians are not, and that alone warrants a mention in NBC's coverage.
[photo via AP]