• NGO urges IOC chief to probe homophobia in Russia


    PARIS: A Russian nongovernmental organization called on International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach to launch an independent investigation of Russia’s anti-gay legislation ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

    “We are deeply worried about the absence of a clear statement and action by the IOC that would support the values of nondiscrimination and the respect of human dignity,” the Russian LGBT coalition said in a statement received by Agence France-Presse.

    The group, which met Bach in Paris on Saturday, added that every member of the Olympic movement should be aware of Russian legislation that does not guarantee the key rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

    Russia’s LGBT coalition has rejected as insufficient statements by President Vladimir Putin that there would be no discrimination against homosexuals in Sochi during the February 7 to 23 event.

    Putin, who has spearheaded the Olympic project in the southern Russian city, promised during a meeting with Bach in October that Sochi would be “comfortable” for all athletes and guests regardless of their ethnicity or sexual orientation.

    Bach then hit out at calls for protests and a boycott of the Sochi Games over the anti-gay legislation.

    But a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an Olympic truce during the Games included a landmark call for host countries such as Russia “to promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind”.

    Russia has faced a widespread Internet campaign and calls from celebrities and gay rights groups for protests at Sochi over its law banning “gay propaganda.”



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