IAAF calls on Russia to be open toward gays
MOSCOW -- The IAAF called on Russia to reconsider its views on gays, yet said Wednesday that it does not want to raise political issues about the country's new anti-gay legislation at the world track championships.
IAAF deputy general secretary Nick Davies said it would be good for the Russian government to see people with "alternative lifestyles, and this may serve as an impetus for them to reconsider their views instead of just living in an isolated society."
At the same time, Davies insisted the world championships should take on the credo of the Olympics and not raise political issues during their events. The track worlds start in Moscow on Saturday.
Russia recently introduced a law that bans so-called "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies.
There has been a groundswell of protest and unease outside Russia about the issue, especially after the country's sports minister said last week that the law would be enforced during the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Olympics -- appearing to contradict assurances to the contrary from the International Olympic Committee.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama also criticized the law cracking down on gay rights activism, saying he has "no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them."
Davies said in a statement that, as an international organization, "we have to respect the laws of the land," whether it likes the laws or not.
"The IAAF cannot control or modify this," Davies said.
He did insist that the IAAF's charter is clearly opposed to any discrimination against sex, religion or gender.
"It is simply not a problem in our sport," Davies said.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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