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Putin Says Gays Welcome At Sochi Winter Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin (in suit) was joined by national athletes at a ceremony to mark the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic torch relay in Moscow on October 6.
President Vladimir Putin says that gay and lesbian athletes and guests at next year's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will feel at ease despite Russia's new ban on homosexual "propaganda."

That and other legislative hurdles have been compounded by reports of increasing -- and increasingly brutal -- attacks on members or perceived members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community across Russia.

The developments have even prompted calls from abroad for countries and would-be attendees to boycott the Sochi Olympics, which are less than four months away.

"We will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans, and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation," Putin, speaking to Russian sports officials in Sochi in the presence of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, said.

Moscow introduced a law earlier this year that bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" among minors."

The Sochi games are scheduled to take place from February 7 to 23.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax