Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, has added some drama to Russia’s anti-gay law that has created much controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by the city. According to a report by ABC News on Jan. 27, the mayor claims that there are no gay people in Sochi.
Pakhomov shared the sentiments of Russian President Vladimir Putin in stating that gays were welcome to visit the city as long they respect Russia’s gay “propaganda” law, but basically states his city is free of homosexuality. He said in a BBC Panorama interview:
“It’s not accepted here in the Caucaus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”
That of course does not mean that gays do not exist in Sochi as one of the city’s most popular gay nightclubs is located in downtown Sochi. So there is definitely a LGBT community in the city. The laws, which gay rights activists feel only adds fuel to a anti-gay movement in the country, is more of a reason gays and lesbians who do live in Sochi may decide to stay silent.
The Sochi mayor later explained that if there are gay people in his city, he “don’t know them.”
The comments come just more than a week before the Winter Olympics and days after Putin defended the law as a way to protect children. Putin stated in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos:
“It seems to me that the law that we have adopted does not hurt anyone. Moreover, individuals of non-traditional orientation cannot feel like second-rate humans in this country because they are not discriminated against in any way.”
Gays and lesbians living in Russia definitely feel a differently about the passing of the law and how they are treated for being who they are.
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