Sen. Schumer: Wave Rainbow Flags for Gay Rights at Winter Olympics

Monday, 12 Aug 2013 07:39 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Nations should wave rainbow flags during opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Russia to show support for gay rights, Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said Monday.

Schumer told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he opposed boycotting the games despite new Russian anti-gay laws, but encourages the United States to stand firm in its support of gays.


"That'd be pretty embarrassing for Putin," Schumer said. "Let our athletes participate but still make a stand."

Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed a law banning gay "propaganda" and imposing fines on those holding gay pride rallies, triggering an international backlash ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7-23, 2014. People are not permitted to even speak about homosexuality in the presence of minors.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, has called for a boycott of the  Olympics because Russia has agreed to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked secret surveillance programs.

President Barack Obama last Friday rejected that idea.

"I do not think it's appropriate to boycott the Olympics," Obama said at the time. "We've got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed." He added he was "offended" by Russian anti-gay laws and hoped the achievements of gay athletes' would change those attitudes.

Vitaly Milonov, who sponsored the legislation that became the basis for the new Russian law, told the Interfax news agency last month fans and athletes visiting Russia would not be immune from the strict speech laws, the Washington Times reported.

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