By Cathy Burke
The mayor of Sochi, Russia, says there’s no gay people in the Winter Olympics’ host city.
Anatoly Pakhomov told BBC Panorama that homosexuality is “not accepted here in the Caucasus . . . We do not have them in our city.”
The mayor later conceded to Panorama that he wasn’t certain there were no gay people living in Sochi, but added, “I don’t bloody know them.”
The mayor said homosexuals were welcome at the Olympic Games — so long as they “respect Russian law” and “don’t impose their habits on others.”
One resident disputed the mayor’s demographical assessment.
“There are very many clubs for gay people in Moscow. In Sochi, we have two gay clubs as well,” the resident, identified as drag queen Madame Zhu-Zha, told Panorama. “In some places, there’s serious prejudice against gay people. In other places, it’s not as bad.”
Last June, Russia passed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality to minors, legislation that was viewed as an attack on gay rights.
But two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the law is meant to protect children, ABC News reported. He insisted that “individuals of non-traditional orientation cannot feel like second-rate humans in this country because they are not discriminated against in any way.”
“I couldn’t care less about their sexual orientation,” Putin added. “We will welcome all athletes and all visitors to the Olympics. None of our guests will have any problems.”
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