Like Iran, There Are Apparently No Gay People in Sochi

But there are gay clubs.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Jan. 27, 2014, 3:36 a.m.

What do Ir­an and So­chi have in com­mon? They don’t have any gay people, ac­cord­ing to their lead­ers.

When gay ath­letes and tour­ists come to So­chi, Rus­sia, for the Winter Olympics next month, they ap­par­ently will be the only gay pop­u­la­tion in the games’ host city. When asked, May­or Anato­ly Pak­ho­mov said, “We don’t have them in our town.”

Though he was not ne­ces­sar­ily cer­tain of this fact: “I am not sure,” he con­tin­ued, “but I don’t bloody know them.”

The may­or, though, is tak­ing the same tone as oth­er gay-deny­ing of­fi­cials in Rus­sia, say­ing that gay people are wel­come to come So­chi for the Olympics — with one small caveat.

“Our hos­pit­al­ity will be ex­ten­ded to every­one who re­spects the laws of the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion and doesn’t im­pose their habits on oth­ers,” Pak­ho­mov said.

Last week, Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin said gay people were wel­come to Rus­sia, as long as they “leave kids alone.”

However, in an un­usu­al twist, So­chi has sev­er­al gay bars, ac­cord­ing to op­pos­i­tion lead­er Bor­is Nemt­sov, who called the may­or’s claim laugh­able.

Dur­ing a speech at Columbia Uni­versity in 2007, then-Pres­id­ent Mah­moud Ah­mad­ine­jad of Ir­an garnered laughs and boos from the audi­ence when he claimed: “In Ir­an, we don’t have ho­mo­sexu­als like in your coun­try.”

“In Ir­an, we do not have this phe­nomen­on; I don’t know who has told you that we have it,” re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about the ex­e­cu­tion of two gay men there.

Ah­mad­ine­jad may be gone, but things haven’t got­ten any bet­ter for gay people.

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