In a move that may cause Russian sanctions against him, U.S. runner Nick Symmonds won a silver medal Tuesday in Moscow and then spoke out against the nation’s anti-gay laws.
“Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it I will, shy of getting arrested. I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people. I disagree with their laws,” Symmonds said in an interview with a Russian news agency, according to The Guardian.
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Russia passed a law in June that stops statements about nontraditional sexual relations among minors.
But the law also prohibits people from saying things that maintain “the equivalence of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations,” the Guardian said.
That could mean that Symmonds’ statements to the news agency ran afoul of the law, but the Guardian said efforts to reach the committee responsible for bringing charges were unsuccessful. The newspaper said that foreign visitors who break the law are subject to a fine, arrest for up to 15 days, and being deported.
Symmonds is the first international athlete to state his opinion in violation of the law. The Huffington Post reported that Symmonds dedicated the silver medal
he won in the 800m to his gay and lesbian friends in the United States.
Russia’s laws have caused violence against the LGBT community in that nation to escalate, the Post said.
Controversy is stirring around the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to be held in Sochi. Many are speaking out with concerns about the safety of LGBT athletes.
At least one Russian Olympic star, Yelena Isinbayeva, came out in favor of the law this week and “condemned” other competitors who painted their fingernails in rainbow colors in support of the LGBT community, the Globe and Mail reported
Isinbayeva said wearing the rainbow colors showed disrespect for her country, the news site said.
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