Putin: Gays Will Be Safe at Olympics if They "Just Leave Kids Alone"

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 17 2014 10:45 AM

Putin: Gays Will Be Safe at Olympics if They "Just Leave Kids Alone"

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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets upcoming Olympic games' volunteers in Sochi on January 17, 2014

Photo by Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

This, apparently, was Vladimir Putin's attempt to ease the concerns of any Olympic visitors rightly worried about Russia's anti-gay laws, via the Washington Post (emphasis mine)

Putin met with a group of volunteers in the Olympic mountain venue at Krasnaya Polyana on Friday to wish them success at the Games. During a question-and-answer session, one volunteer asked him about Russia’s attitudes toward gays, a subject that has provoked worldwide controversy, and Putin offered what was apparently meant to be a reassuring answer for visitors to the Olympics. "One can feel calm and at ease," he said. "Just leave kids alone, please."
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The law at the heart of Russia's anti-gay attitude prohibits the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual practices" among minors, a wording that allows the government to ban gay rights parades and generally snuff out any sane talk of LGBTQ issues under the guise that children might see or hear them—so Putin's absurd comments aren't exactly coming out of left field (or whatever the Russian equivalent is to that). Still, it remains more than a little mind-blowing to hear the not-so-subtle suggestion that gays need to be warned against preying on children, especially in the context of reassurance from the host of the Olympic Games.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.