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Russian sports official puts Nazis, gays in same category

August 13, 2013|By David Wharton

There isn't much chance the uproar over Russia's new anti-gay law will die down before the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Not if Russian officials keep stoking the flames.

In an interview with World Football Insider, the country's World Cup chief chose some interesting words to defend the legislation, which bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

Among other things, Alexey Sorokin put gays in the same category as Nazis. 

“The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views ...," he told the Internet publication. "Not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life."

Sorokin was also quoted as saying: "Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious."

The legislation, adopted in June, threatens criminal prosecution for discussing gay rights around children or supporting gay rights with parades or other public events. Sorokin said it “has been largely misinterpreted" and that "it is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference."

Russian leaders have offered some assurances the law will not be enforced against Olympic athletes during the upcoming Winter Games, but the International Olympic Committee has asked for clarification of the government's position.

World leaders, including President Obama, have openly criticized the legislation. So far, calls for a boycott have been largely dismissed.

Last week, in an interview with the BBC, British actor and activist Stephen Fry urged athletes to display their support for gay rights by crossing their arms over their chests during the opening ceremony and by wearing symbols of support for diversity such as the rainbow flag.

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