No problem’ with Russia’s anti-gay laws 

Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, has called for Russian law to be respected ahead of his sport’s World championships, which begin in Moscow on Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin last month signed into effect a law which bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear. It has been condemned by Russian and international rights groups as highly discriminatory. “I don’t feel there is a problem whatsoever,” Diack, a member of the International Olympic Committee, told reporters. “Russia has their laws. Each athlete can have their own private life, so we won’t call upon people about this and that.

“This law has to be respected. We are here for the World Championships and have no problem whatsoever and I’m not worried at all.” The new laws have led to calls for the 2014 Winter Olympics, set to be held in the city of Sochi, to be taken away from Russia. A 320,000-signature petition protesting the country’s stance on gay rights ahead of the Games was presented to Olympic bosses in Switzerland on Wednesday. Responding to the petition, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge reaffirmed the Olympic movement’s commitment to freedom of expression. “The Olympic charter is clear. A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” said Rogge in a statement. ” As far as the freedom of expression is concerned, of course, this is something that is important.”

According to the IOC’s statement, the Russian government has confirmed the new legislation will not apply to athletes and tourists during the Games. “This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. “As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media. “To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.” Rogge’s words were welcomed by All Out, the gay rights group which delivered the petition to the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. “This is the strongest and most direct statement we have received from the IOC,”All Out co-founder and executive director Andre Banks said in a statement.

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