Russian President Putin links gays to pedophiles

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 19, 2014 at 11:01 am •  Published: January 19, 2014
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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered new assurances to gay athletes and fans attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics next month. Yet he defended Russia's anti-gay law by equating gays with pedophiles and said Russia needs to "cleanse" itself of homosexuality if it wants to increase its birth rate.

Putin's comments in an interview broadcast Sunday with Russian and foreign television stations showed the wide gulf between the perception of homosexuality in Russia versus the West.

A Russian law passed last year banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" among minors has caused an international outcry.

Putin refused to answer a question from the BBC on whether he believes that people are born gay or become gay. The Russian law, however, suggests that information about homosexuality can influence a child's sexual orientation.

The law has contributed to growing animosity toward gays in Russian society, with rights activists reporting a rise in harassment and abuse.

International worries about how gays will be treated in Sochi have been met with assurances from Russian officials and Olympics organizers that there will be no discrimination, and Putin reiterated that stance.

"There are no fears for people with this nontraditional orientation who plan to come to Sochi as guests or participants," Putin declared in the TV interview.

He said the law was aimed at banning propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, suggesting that gays are more likely to abuse children.

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