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Gays plan sport games in Moscow, no gay prosecution in Russia, say authorities

February 13, 2014, 16:12 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© EPA/FLORIAN SCHUH

MOSCOW, February 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian regulations of child adoption have been officially amended with a ban on adoption of Russian children among citizens of countries where single-sex marriages are lawful. Russian authorities are asking the international community not to overdramatize the situation with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Russia while Moscow prepares for international LGBT sport events.

According to the decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, adoption is possible for full-age people of both sexes, except those in same-sex marriage registered under the law of another state and citizens of the mentioned state who are not married. The amendments followed the law that was adopted more than six months ago in the Family Code and included the prohibition.

The law almost coincided with another high-profile initiative that banned propaganda of unconventional sexual relationships among minors. Advocates of sexual minorities as well as the LGBT community at home and abroad argued the law was inadequate in its formulation of the term “propaganda”, which could result in infringement of LGBT rights in Russia.

Official disapproval from the European Parliament followed last autumn. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has plans to discuss LGBT rights with Russia's parliament and has requested a meeting with deputies from lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin.

The event was scheduled for February 11, but was later postponed until the end of the month due to the Sochi Olympics, a source in the lower house told Izvestia daily. “We will have a wide range of issues on the agenda but the issue of the LGBT community in Russia will undoubtedly be a priority that PACE insists upon,” the source said, adding that PACE had prepared a number of proposals.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke in favor of moderate conservatism and traditional values in his annual address to the parliament last December, has repeatedly made it clear that gays are not persecuted in Russia. Ahead of the Olympics, he had to repeat this in public several times.

In January, he assured Olympics volunteers that gay people could feel safe and at ease in Russia but asked to “leave children alone”.

“We do not ban unconventional forms of sexual intercourse. We prohibit propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to make it clear - we ban propaganda among minors. A ban on certain relationships and a ban on propaganda of such relationships are absolutely different things,” said Putin.

In the meantime, reports have emerged recently that Moscow will host Russia’s first international competition among gay athletes immediately after the Sochi Olympics. According to President of Russian LGBT Sport Federation, figure skater Konstantin Yablotsky, they will take place in secrecy.

“Various recreation centers are rented as sport facilities. The organizers do not disclose further details for fear of participants’ safety,” Yablotsky told Russian News Service radio station.

Deputy Chairman of the games’ Organizing Committee Viktor Romanov told RBC daily that Russian LGBT games would take place on February 26 - March 2 when 180 athletes from the US, Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Russia will compete in eight disciplines.

Moscow games will be attended by Dutch Minister of Sport Edith Schippers and fourfold Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis. Negotiations with other dignitaries are underway. Russia's gay games are mini-games: the main international competition will take place in the US city of Cleveland in August.

Deputy of St. Petersburg legislative assembly and anti-propaganda law mastermind Vitaly Milonov is not at all surprised about these games as gays “react painfully” to the high-profile law. He does not oppose LGBT games in closed halls but says “it will be a nightmare” if they run in the open.

To sum up, as Putin put it, people of traditional sexual orientation and LGBT people should “get rid of aggression, and take it easier on each other, then there will be no clamor, outcry and unnecessary rows.”

 

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