Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov says there are no gay people in the Russian city preparing to host the upcoming winter Olympic Games.
In interview with the BBC’s Panorama on Monday, Pakhomov told interviewer John Sweeney: “We don’t have them in our town.”
Asked if he was sure about his claim, Pakhomov replied: “I’m not sure, I don’t bloody know them.”
But Pakhomov said gay people would be welcome at the Games as long as they respect “the laws of the Russian Federation,” and don’t “impose their habits and their will on others.”
“Yes, everyone is welcome,” he added.
Meanwhile, Boris Nemtsov, a Liberal opposition leader in Russia, laughed off Pakhomov’s claim that there are no gay people in Sochi.
“As far as I know, there are several gay clubs in Sochi,” he told the BBC. “How do they survive, why are they not bankrupt?” he said.
Despite implementing a law banning gay “propaganda” to minors in June 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin reassured gay visitors on Jan. 17 that they are welcome to the Sochi Games, and vowed that they will not face discrimination.
However, he defended the country’s anti-gay law by grouping homosexuality and pedophilia together, and said that the “propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia” is still banned.
Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov says there are no gay people in the Olympic city | CTV News (external - login to view)