Skip to main content

Putin says gays 'can feel safe' at Sochi Winter Olympics

By Laura Smith-Spark and Nic Robertson, CNN
January 17, 2014 -- Updated 1608 GMT (0008 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says homosexuals have nothing to fear in Russia
  • "You can feel safe and free here, but please leave our children in peace," he says
  • His remarks come as he meets volunteers for the upcoming Winter Olympics
  • Putin told ambassadors Thursday the games would be held "without any discrimination"

Sochi, Russia (CNN) -- Russia's Vladimir Putin again sought to downplay fears that gay visitors will be discriminated against as he paid a visit to the Sochi area Friday, exactly three weeks before the Winter Olympics get under way.

Putin's remarks came as he met with volunteers for the games, the state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The President said Russia, unlike some other countries, does not criminalize homosexual relationships.

"We don't outlaw anything and don't nab anyone," Putin said.

Russian gay parents fear losing children
Russian gay rights activist may lose job
Gays face hatred attacks in Russia

"That's why you can feel safe and free here, but please leave our children in peace," he added.

Russia has come under international pressure since its parliament passed a law last summer outlawing "gay propaganda." The legislation makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality.

The law has been widely criticized by Western leaders who have called it archaic and discriminatory. Human rights activists say it proves Russia is unworthy of hosting the latest Winter Olympics.

Putin's meeting with the Olympic volunteers came a day after he told foreign ambassadors in Moscow that the event would be held "without any discrimination" against athletes and visitors.

"The games will be held in complete compliance with the Olympic Charter, without any discrimination on the basis of any characteristic," Putin said Thursday, according to state media.

The Olympic Charter states that: "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

Police presence

Former gay Olympian: Don't boycott Sochi
Gay culture alive in Sochi, Russia
President Obama skipping Sochi Olympics

Security has been stepped up in and around Sochi ahead of the Games.

A twin bomb attack on public transit in the southern city of Volgograd at the end of December heightened concerns that Islamist terrorists may seek to strike in Sochi.

There was a heavy police presence on the streets of the Black Sea resort Friday as Putin visited the area.

Two security blimps also hovered in the skies above the Sochi Olympic Village, allowing long-range monitoring of activities on the ground.

Meanwhile, last-minute construction work continues apace ahead of the expected influx of 6,000 athletes from 85 countries and thousands more visitors from around the world.

The event has cost at least $50 billion to stage, including major infrastructure work in and around Sochi.

READ: Is Russia about to pass another anti-gay law?

READ: Russia's 'anti-gay' law pushes gay community into shadows

CNN's Nic Robertson reported from Sochi and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London. CNN's Phil Black and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT