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Russian government says it will not discriminate at Olympics, defends anti-gay law

Aug 22, 2013, 9:52 AM EDT

Vladimir Putin AP

The International Olympic Committee received a letter from the Russian government on Thursday saying visitors at the Sochi Olympics will be welcome regardless of sexual orientation and at the same time defending the country’s new law.

“The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak wrote.

Kozak defended a law passed in June banning the “propagandizing” of nontraditional sexual relations toward minors in Russia.

The law “cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation,” as it applies to everybody, Kozak wrote, according to The Associated Press.

The IOC said two weeks ago it needed clarification on Russia’s law, citing a translation issue.

“We have today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the Games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a statement Thursday.

Kozak added this in the letter, according to Reuters:

“In particular, legislation of the Russian Federation does not stipulate any restrictions or differentiation of the rights and responsibilities of citizens on the basis of sexual orientation.

“Discrimination against sexual minorities, just as any other discrimination, is expressly forbidden by the Constitution of the Russian Federation.”

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