Sochi Mayor’s Anti-Gay Delusion: Olympic Host City Is 100% Heterosexual

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 27 2014 5:47 PM

Sochi Mayor’s Anti-Gay Delusion: Olympic Host City Is 100% Heterosexual

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People dance in a gay club in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on October 3, 2013.

Photo by MIKHAIL MORDASOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are less than two weeks away and, somehow, the country is still trying to get its story straight when it comes to the gay community there. The latest addition to the Russian government’s anti-gay stance took a particularly delusional turn, when the mayor of the host city, Anatoly Pakhomov, said that his city is 100 percent heterosexual.

Pakhomov still toed the pre-Olympic Russian line on homosexuality, telling the BBC, that gay athletes and spectators are welcome in his city as long as they don’t “impose their habits on others.” That doesn’t mean that they have to hide their sexuality he told the BBC. "We just say that it is your business, it's your life. But it's not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city," he said.

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That seems pretty unlikely given that Sochi has a population of more than 400,000 people. Russia’s Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, told the BBC that the mayor’s math was “laughable.” "As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi,” he said. "How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?" Before interviewing Pakhomov, however, BBC reporter John Sweeney visited a gay bar in Sochi. Even though a quick Google search would have done the fact-finding trick. When pushed on his claim that Sochi is home to zero homosexuals, Sochi’s mayor backtracked. "I am not sure, but I don't bloody know them,” Pakhomov said.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.