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Putin offers new assurances to gays at Sochi Olympics but equates homosexuals with pedophiles

  • Sochi-Russia-Gays

    Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at his meeting with Olympic volunteers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Putin says gays should feel welcome at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, but they must "leave the children in peace." Putin told volunteers Friday that gays visiting Sochi "can feel calm and at ease," and vowed that there would be no discrimination at the games. But he emphasized that, according to a law banning homosexual "propaganda" among minors, gays cannot express their views on gay rights issues to anyone underage. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Russia-Putin-Sochi-1

    In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 photo made available by Presidential Press Service on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a translation during an interview to Russian and foreign media at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, which will host Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 7, 2014. President Vladimir Putin once again has offered assurances to gays planning to attend the Sochi Olympics, but his arguments defending Russia’s ban on homosexual “propaganda” to minors show the vast gulf between how he understands the issues and how homosexuality is generally viewed in the West. In an interview with Russian and foreign television stations broadcast Sunday, Putin equated gays with pedophiles and spoke of the need for Russia to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality as part of efforts to increase the birth rate. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Russia-Putin-Sochi-2

    In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 photo made available by Presidential Press Service on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin, listens during an interview to Russian and foreign media at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, which will host Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 7, 2014. President Vladimir Putin once again has offered assurances to gays planning to attend the Sochi Olympics, but his arguments defending Russia’s ban on homosexual “propaganda” to minors show the vast gulf between how he understands the issues and how homosexuality is generally viewed in the West. In an interview with Russian and foreign television stations broadcast Sunday, Putin equated gays with pedophiles and spoke of the need for Russia to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality as part of efforts to increase the birth rate. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered new assurances to gay athletes and fans attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics next month. Yet he defends Russia’s anti-gay law by equating gays with pedophiles and says Russia needs to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality if it wants to increase its birth rate.

Putin’s comments in a TV interview broadcast Sunday still show the wide gulf between the perception of homosexuality in Russia versus the West. A Russian law passed last year banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” among minors has caused an international outcry.

Putin refused to answer a question on whether he believes that people are born gay or become gay. The Russian law, however, suggests that information about homosexuality can influence a child’s sexual orientation.

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