Putin says gays need not fear attending Sochi Olympics

Jan. 19, 2014 at 12:33 PM

SOCHI, Russia, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said homosexual athletes and spectators would not run afoul of a new law on so-called gay propaganda at the Winter Olympics.

Putin told the BBC Sunday the controversial law recently passed in Russia was not the stringent crackdown on homosexuality it was portrayed as and was aimed at protecting minors from predators.

"There is no danger for individuals of this non-traditional sexual orientation who are planning to come to the games as visitors or participants," said Putin, who has come under harsh criticism for the new law, including calls for a boycott of the Sochi games.

Putin said homosexuality in general remained tolerated in Russia and he himself had no prejudice against homosexuals. "I myself know some people who are gay," Putin said. "We are on friendly terms. I'm not prejudiced in any way."

"If you want my personal attitude, I would tell you that I don't care about a person's sexual orientation," Putin said.

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