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Olympians Join Petition Against Russian Crackdown on Gays

A gay rights protester is detained by security personnel during the Olympic torch relay in the city of Voronezh on January 18.
More than 50 Olympians past and present have signed a global petition calling on Russia to stop cracking down on gays ahead of the Sochi Winter Games.

These signatories include Sochi-bound snowboarder Belle Brockhoff and bobsleigh pilot Heath Spence. who are both Australian, as well as the Canadian skier Mike Janyk.

The online petition has gathered more than 405,000 signatures worldwide. It says: "We stand with citizens across Russia who are calling on their government to stop the crackdown against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people that is fueling anti-gay violence."

It also calls on Russian and world leaders "to work to eliminate all antigay laws and protect all citizens from violence and discrimination in Russia."

The petition appears on websites of the activist groups All Out and Athlete Ally, which battle discrimination in sports.

Both are organizing protests for February 5 in Moscow, Sochi, London, Rio de Janeiro and other cities – two days before the Sochi Olympics begin.

Based on reporting by AFP and