Hey, remember that travel alert issued by the State Department warning LGBT Americans about Russia's nightmare "anti-gay propaganda" law? Well, worry not: Russian President Vladimir Putin, who signed in the legislation last June, has now declared that gay foreigners have nothing to fear from Russia's anti-gay law ... as long as they "leave kids alone, please." Ugh.
Vladimir Putin, everybody: never one to hold back from causing offense. Not to mention, never one not to break the Olympic charter by tampering with its peacekeeping spirit; promote and excuse homophobia; and make hugely offensive connections between the LGBT community and pedophilia.
Putin made the comment at a Q&A session with Olympic volunteers in Sochi. When asked about the notorious law, Putin pointed out that Russia was not expressly against homosexuality, as the Soviet Union had been. Putin also claimed that in Russia, being gay in itself wasn't a crime — it's only the creation of gay "propaganda" that could influence Russia's youth that will put you at risk. He added that Russian police do not patrol the street looking for members of the LGBT community to beat up on.
Always a great sign when you need to clarify something like that.
Putin is technically correct: It is not the act of gay relations in of itself that's illegal in Russia, but the "propaganda" of it. But the law is designed to be vague so that it can cover a number of "crimes" by the LGBT community: protesting for gay rights, for example; holding hands or kissing in public; or admitting to a gay relationship near a child or adolescent. Not to mention, it encourages and even promotes the anti-gay sentiment already prevalent in Russia, and offers an excuse for hate crimes.
After informing the volunteers that gay tourists would be fine if they just "leave kids alone, please," Putin continued...
We have no ban on the nontraditional forms of sexual intercourse among people. We have the ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to stress this: propaganda among minors. These are two absolutely different things: a ban on certain relations or the propaganda of such relations.
The new law, which dovetails horribly with Russia's hosting the Winter Olympics, has prompted international outrage. Though no country have gone so far as to boycott the Olympics, as was suggested by some critics of the law, President Obama has created a delegation committee containing three openly gay Americans as an open snub to Russia's law.
Finally, one more question was asked of Putin: If Russia is against exposing its minors to the LGBT community, then why are Russia's Olympic outfits rainbow-colored — the international symbol of gay rights?
"I didn't design the uniform," Putin responded bluntly.
Of course you didn't, Vladimir.