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Olympic Committee asks Russia for assurances anti-gay laws won’t harm athletes

Russia sent the IOC a written statement that its anti-gay laws won't hurt those attending or taking part in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

sochi olympics lgbtEnlarge
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C) and IOC President Jacques Rogge (L) look at the unveiled Sochi 2014 Olympic Medals displayed at an IOC executive board meeting at the SportAccord International Convention in St. Petersburg on May 30, 2013, with Sochi 2014 CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko (partly seen R) attending. (Kirill Kudryavtse /AFP/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee has asked the Russian government to clarify a written statement from 2014 Winter Games organizer Dmitry Kozak that anti-gay laws will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.

Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but legislation passed this June prohibits gay pride events and the sharing of information about homosexuality with people under 18, so-called "propaganda." 

Worried about safety and conflict with the Olympic charter, which states that sports are a human right available to all regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, gay rights groups have called on the IOC to move the location of the games from Sochi, Russia.

While the IOC will not make a final decision on whether to keep the games in Sochi until it receives clarification on the written assurances, IOC chief Jacques Rogge told BBC News that he expected the statement would be sufficient. 

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"We don't think it is a fundamental issue, more a translation issue," he said. "We are not clear about the English translation of the Russian law, and we want clarification of this translation to be able to understand what has been communicated to us.

"This is about a couple of paragraphs – we don't understand all the details because of probably a difficulty in translation."

Meanwhile, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told an international LGBT rights group that Russia’s anti-LGBT laws would remain in effect during the Sochi Winter Olympics, Buzzfeed reported.

Churkin met with members of All Out when they delivered a petition of 340,000 signatures to his office on Thursday. After the meeting, the group’s executive director, Andre Banks, explained why Russia’s anti-gay laws are of such concern to his group.

“When the government sanctions discrimination, hate crimes flourish,” he said. “We recently saw the lurid torture and death of a gay Russian man captured on video. How much more will world leaders endure before speaking out?”

Banks was referring to a group of alleged neo-Nazi Russians attacking gay men, and recording the incidents on video. The gay men are lured into public through online dates, forced to admit their sexuality on camera and then humiliated.

More from GlobalPost: Actor Stephen Fry says Putin treats gays like Hitler treated Jews

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/130809/olympics-committee-asks-russia-clarify-assurances-anti-ga