IMPACT

There Are No Gay People In Sochi, Says Russian Mayor

01/28/2014 10:16 EST | Updated 01/28/2014 10:59 EST

With the 2014 OIympics in Russia starting in less than two weeks, there's still plenty of confusion about the country's views and laws on homosexuality. Including, apparently, those of the mayor of Sochi, the host town for the Games.

In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, told the news outlet that gay people would be welcome at the Games, as long as they don't "impose their habits and their will on others."

He also said there are no gay people in Sochi, a notion discredited by the BBC's visit to a gay nightclub the evening before.

While there's been a serious outcry against Pakhomov's words from the media and, as the video above notes, Russian gay rights activist Nikolay Alekseyev, there is an element of truth to what he says. While Sochi had previously been known as a city of tolerance and extramarital affairs, according to Reuters, many members of the town's LGBT community have left the country since it was announced the Olympic Games would be held there.

Russia's current laws ban distribution of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors," notes PolicyMic, and have resulted in the banning of gay pride parades and fines for gay rights groups.

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