Obama: Inappropriate to Boycott Olympics over Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

By Melanie Arter | August 9, 2013 | 4:00pm EDT

A gay rights activist protests in front of the Russian consulate in New York, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama on Friday urged people not to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics taking place in Sochi, Russia over the country’s new law against gay rights activism.

“I want to just make very clear right now: I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” Obama said. “We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the legislation into law in June, which imposes fines on individuals accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. It also imposes penalties on those who advocate homosexuality online or in the news, and it bans gay pride rallies, according to an Aug. 1 Associated Press article.

Foreign citizens can receive punishments of up to $3,000 in fines, imprisonment for up to 15 days, deportation and denial of reentry into Russia.

“Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia, but as I’ve said just this week, I’ve spoken against that, not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries, where we continue to do work with them, but we have a strong disagreement on this issue,” Obama said.

The president would like to see gay athletes bring home gold, silver, or bronze medals from the Olympics, saying it would “go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there.”

“And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it’ll probably make their team weaker,” Obama said.

The 2014 Winter Olympics takes place Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

See also:  Moscow Rejects Criticism of 'Anti-Gay Propaganda' Law; Says Don't Link it to Olympics

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