Olympic crowds warned on ‘gay propaganda’

Moscow - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak on Thursday warned spectators and athletes against promoting gay rights during the Olympics, saying it was forbidden by the Olympic Charter and Russian law to spread propaganda during a sporting event.

Amid a continued furore over Russia's new law, which forbids the dissemination of “gay propaganda” to minors, Kozak once again argued that there was no discrimination based on sexual orientation in Russia.

Gay rights protesters rally against Russia's anti-gay stance outside Downing Street in London on February 5, 2014. Picture: Paul Hackett. Credit: Reuters

But he reminded participants in the Games that the law means it is not allowed to promote homosexuality among minors - a stipulation seen as vehemently homophobic by activists.

“We have no restrictions on citizens’ rights based on their sexuality. We are adults here and we can carry out our private lives as we deem necessary,” Kozak told reporters.

“They (gay people) can make propaganda about their sexual orientation among adults. But there is no need to involve children. I have already said this many times,” he said.

Despite the simmering controversy, Kozak said he hoped there would be no “problems or conflicts” over the gay controversy during the opening and closing ceremonies, or the sporting events themselves.

“Political propaganda during sporting events is forbidden by the Olympic charter and Russian law,” he said.

One day ahead of the official opening of the Games, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had earlier made a powerful call for equality, saying “we must all raise our voices against attacks” on gays.