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'Italy No to anti-gay laws at Sochi' says Letta

PM will reaffirm Italian position at Games' opening ceremony

03 February, 12:58
'Italy No to anti-gay laws at Sochi' says Letta (ANSA) - Rome, February 3 - Premier Enrico Letta said Monday he would reaffirm that Italy is against Russian anti-gay norms at the Sochi Winter Olympics. "At Sochi I will reiterate Italy's opposition to any discriminatory norm against gays, inside or outside sports," he said in Doha, confirming he would be at the opening ceremony at the Black Sea resort later this month.

Moscow passed a law restricting the activities of gay activists seven months ago, sparking an international outcry.

President Vladimir Putin has tried to defuse the protests by claiming the law was not as anti-gay as depicted and easing a ban on protests in Sochi.

A host of celebrities have joined the protest, including Sir Elton John who said he would "show Putin Russia's gay community".

On Friday a coalition of 40 human-rights and gay-rights groups from the US, Western Europe and Russia - including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Campaign - released an open letter to the 10 biggest Olympic sponsors, urging them to denounce the law and run ads promoting equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

The law, signed by Putin in July, bans pro-gay "propaganda" that could be accessible to minors - a measure viewed by activists as forbidding almost any public expression of gay-rights sentiment.

The law cleared parliament virtually unopposed and has broad public support in Russia.