John M. Becker

Mayor of Russia's Olympic Village Defends Anti-LGBT Law

Filed By John M. Becker | August 16, 2013 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay propaganda, gay propaganda law, homophobia, Jacques Rogge, Moscow, Olympics 2014, Russia, Sochi, Sochi Olympics, track and field, Yelena Isinbayeva

isinbayeva.jpgYesterday, 31-year-old Yelena Isinbayeva -- widely regarded as the greatest female pole vaulter in history -- defended Russia's barbaric anti-LGBT crackdown at a press conference at the world track and field championships in Moscow.

The two-time Olympic champion and current world record holder also criticized American runner Nick Symmonds for speaking out against the law, as well as several Swedish competitors who painted their nails in rainbow colors to show support for LGBT equality.

"It's unrespectful to our country, it's unrespectful to our citizen. Because -- we are Russians. Maybe we are different than European people, than other people from different land. We have our law which everyone have to respect...

"[We] are really afraid, if we -- it's my opinion also -- if we will allow [LGBTs] to promote and... do all this stuff on the street, we're very afraid about our nations because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people. We just lives with the boys with womans, womans with boys...

"It comes from the history. We never had any problems -- I mean, these problems -- in Russia, and we don't want to have it in the future."

Watch Isinbayeva's remarks, after the jump.

Isinbayeva's comments garnered swift criticism. Symmonds replied, "It blows my mind that such a young, well-traveled, well-educated woman would be so behind the times. She said 'normal, standard people' in Russia? Guess what: a lot of these people with Russian citizenship are normal, standard homosexuals. They deserve rights, too."

British heptathlete Louise Hazel said Isinbayeva's comments were deeply shocking and called on the IOC to review -- and possibly rescind -- the pole vaulter's status as an IOC ambassador to the Youth Olympics. IOC President Jacques Rogge called Isinbayeva "a true role model for young people" when he appointed her to the position in 2010, but according to Hazel, Isinbayeva's homophobic words prove otherwise:

"A role model is somebody we can look to for inspiration and also to imitate. You're not supposed to exclude anyone and that's what she's done in making these comments.

"I would be worried if my children or the next generation of athletes were looking to Yelena Isinbayeva and thinking that these comments are acceptable. Quite simply, I don't think they are. They're sending the message that discrimination is OK and it quite clearly is not in this day and age.

"I just don't feel that it's in keeping with the spirit of sport in general and the all-encompassing, all inclusive values of the Olympic Games."

Isinbayeva has also been named the honorary mayor of one of the Olympic Villages in the upcoming Sochi Games. Svetlana Bobrova, a spokeswoman for the Sochi Olympic organizing committee, backed up Isinbayeva, telling the AP, "We like her and she is the mayor of the Olympic village."

Perhaps in response to the backlash generated by her anti-LGBT comments, Isinbayeva issued a statement today claiming she may have been "misunderstood."

"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday," she said. "What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests.

"I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people."

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