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Ah, well. I know, but when the New York Times titles an EDITORIAL “Gay-baiting Before the Olympics”, how can I possibly resist. This was part of a warning Putin gave to VISITORS on Friday, as if everyone coming to Sochi was going to be wrapped in a rainbow flag (and wouldn't it be wonderful if they WERE).

As the Winter Olympic Games approach next month in Russia, it is hard to tell whether President Vladimir Putin wants to play the role of genial host or homophobic scold. In remarks Friday to workers preparing the Games, the autocratic Russian leader sought to reassure visitors to Sochi. “You can feel relaxed and calm,” he said. He then added: “But please, leave the children alone.”
Below the great orange fruitbasket for more and for anything else I can find that refers to this.

We'll come back to the editorial, but it looks like everyone in the world covered this, and the most jaw-dropping coverage comes from the BBC and here's how:

One of the volunteers at Friday's meeting commented on Sochi's rainbow-coloured uniforms and asked if they might be breaching the ban on gay propaganda.

Mr Putin replied that he had not designed the uniform.

You can understand why the question was asked, no?

Of course, BBC News also wants us to know that

A rising tide of homophobia in parts of the media has accompanied and followed the adoption of that law, including attempts to implicate homosexuals in a recent series of terror attacks.
On Twitter the use of the Russian term "pidora" (the equivalent of "faggot") has increased tenfold since the beginning of 2011, and "sodomite" is now used almost 100 times a month, up from 2-3 times a month before the anti-gay law was passed.

The official TV channel Rossiya 1 has also increased its reports on homosexuality,

The man spearheading Rossiya 1's attacks on the gay community is Dmitry Kiselev, anchor of the channel's flagship weekly news review Vesti Nedeli.

The programme's attacks on the LGBT community have been remorseless. It has portrayed them as an "aggressive minority" opposed to "parents fighting to give their children a healthy upbringing". It has also suggested that "40% of children brought up by homosexuals have venereal diseases".

Dmitry Kiselev told another programme on Rossiya 1 in 2012 that the hearts of homosexuals killed in car accidents "should be buried or burnt as unfit for prolonging anybody's life".

Another staunchly anti-gay voice on Rossiya 1 is senior journalist Arkady Mamontov, who on a prime-time talk show suggested that Russia was in danger of being engulfed by a "homosexual sodomite tsunami"

Kiselev, incidentally, has just been made head of the news organization Russia Today, which is tasked with communicating to the global audience. The terrorist bombings in Volgograd have also been blamed on gay people:
Russian-born US activist Larry Poltavtsev writes that just as everything Jewish was anathema to the Nazis, so "now everything that stands apart from President Putin and his team is deemed to be 'gay'."

He cited a news agency report referring to a "gay jihad", which suggested that homosexuality was rife among the terrorists responsible for the recent bomb attacks in the city of Volgograd.

This is not the only instance of fingers of blame being pointed at the gay community over the blasts. Controversial Orthodox clergyman Andrei Kurayev suggested that one of the bombers may have converted to Islam because of the "cancer" of homosexuality in the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in the Russian region of Tatarstan.

Yep. Homosexuality leads its opponents to become Muslims. That's really a new one for me. As for Poltavsayev's observation of Godwin's Law, that's what many commentators have been thinking since the law was passed.

Even The Wall Street Journal, via WSJonline, has issues with Putin:

Mr. Putin and other politicians have defended the June propaganda law as a protection of child rights, but critics believe that the law discriminates against sexual minorities. The law specifically refers only to "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

Mr. Putin appeared to lump homosexuality and pedophilia together. "We have no ban on nontraditional sexual relations. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors," he said.

In the wake of the international outcry against the bill, Russian authorities have put limits on the right to protest during the Sochi Games, which run Feb. 7-23.

Yes, I'm reading "appeared to" as having issues. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part. "Propaganda of", he says. I guess the rainbow flag must be propaganda, if they're arresting people for unfurling it during the torch relay.

Also, Putin seems to be channeling Anita Bryant.

In case you don't remember, Miami_Dade County, in 1977, became one of the first municipalities in the country to pass a local act forbidding discrimination against homosexuals. From gayhistory4u.blogspot:
In 1977, Dade County Florida tried to pass an ordinance that would forbid discrimination, due to sexual orientation. Anita was outraged at this. She said that homosexuals could not reproduce on their own and therefore were trying to push their “lifestyle” as an acceptable alternative to recruit children for their ranks. So she started a campaign called “Save Our Children” to rally support to stop the ordinance from passing. She teamed up with the likes of Jerry Falwell to organize a rebellion against gay rights, which were sweeping across the nation at the time.

“As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children, therefore, they must recruit our children’

“If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with Saint Bernards and to nail biters.”

In June of 1977, Anita Bryant’s campaign was successful and the ordinance was repealed by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.

The Guardian lets us know that Putin is not just obstinate, but ignorant too. After making the point that gay visitors are welcome in Russia as long as they stay away from children (there's that old homosexual-pedophilia canard again), Putin had this to say:
"We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships," said Putin in comments reported by Russian agencies. "We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia. I want to underline this. Propaganda among children. These are absolutely different things – a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing."

Putin also added that Russia was more liberal than some other countries, claiming that in certain US states homosexuality was still punishable by law.

Um, not since Lawrence v Texas, but, then Louisiana and Kansas, at least, haven't taken their laws that Lawrence invalidated off the books yet. Maybe he was thinking of Uganda, which, as far as I know, the loony religious right hasn't proposed as a state yet.

And finally, the New York Times. The Editorial Board picks up on the same distinction the Guardian wrote about (not banning the thing, banning propaganda about the thing - putting it back in the closet, so to speak) and reminds us that Russia has a history of this sort of thing anyway.

Mr. Putin should keep in mind his own nation’s history of easy Kremlin hatefulness toward all manner of dissidents. His repeated and clumsy references to what are essentially his own prejudices, since glorified by the state, only make Sochi more political and less inviting to world visitors.
No pussyfooting for the Times, which knows a homophobe when they see one.

As this begins to look increasingly more like a trainwreck, I think I might watch the opening ceremonies, since I know NBC will televise them in prime time, 10 hours after they actually happen (that would be the West Coast feed). Now, we watch Sochi, and later, we watch the aftermath.

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