His extreme remarks come amid continued controversy over anti-gay sentiments swirling around Russia’s gay “propaganda” law, passed in June of 2013, which forbids open gay activism and even talking about homosexuality around minors.
“It’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city,” Anatoly Pakhomov told BBC Panorama in the interview.
Sochi is set to host the Winter Olympics in just under two weeks, and Pakhomov says gays and lesbians are “welcome to visit” as long as they “respect Russian law” and “don’t impose their habits on others.”
ABC News points out something that the head-in-the-sand mayor evidently overlooked, and something that opposition leader Boris Nemtsov even is aware of – that there are several gay bars in Sochi.
“Of course, if Pakhomov were to visit the crowded nightclub Mayak, located just off the beach in downtown Sochi, he would find the city’s most popular gay cabaret,” writes ABC.
According to the BBC, Panorama reporter John Sweeney, who interviewed Pakhomov, visited a gay bar the day before his scheduled meeting with the mayor. When Sweeney pressed Pakhomov about his obtuse remark, the mayor admitted that he was not certain about the gay count in Sochi.
“I am not sure,” Pakhomov said. “But I don't bloody know them.”