Sep 302013
 

Nick Symmonds celebratesAfter winning a silver medal at the World Track & Field Championships in Moscow on Aug. 13, American middle distance runner Nick Symmonds openly dedicated the victory to his gay and lesbian friends in his home country.

The act makes Symmonds the first athlete to critique and oppose Russia’s  anti-gay legislation while in Russia.

The laws have led to extremeagainst LGBT individuals, both at the hands of law enforcement and  self-proclaimed vigilantes. These include right wing Nazi punks

“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that  all humans deserve equality as however God made them, “said Symmonds in a statement after taking second in the 800-meter race, notes Russia & India Reports. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”

The 2014 Sochi Olympics are still slated to take place in February, despite mounting pressure on the International Olympic Committee to enact some sort of action that will ensure the safety of LGBT athletes at the game.

Symmonds had other enlightened comments for the media.

“Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it I will, shy of getting arrested.

“I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people. I disagree with their laws.”

In an article for Runner’s World this month, Symmonds criticised the law passed in June banning the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, but said he would not discuss the subject in Russia.

Symmonds’s comments in Moscow could run foul of the broadly worded law, which prohibits statements maintaining the “equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations”. Foreign citizens who violate the law in the media face a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 rubles (£975 to £1,950),   approx. $1,000 to $2,500 USD and  arrest for up to 15 days and deportation.

The Investigative Committee, which accepts requests for information only via mail, could not be reached to comment on whether charges will be brought against Symmonds.

Fifa has also asked the Russian authorities for clarification and more details on the law in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the organisation said on Tuesday.

 

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