Mayor says Sochi has no gay people

Police officers walk in front of the main station at Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in the western Caucasian mountains near Krasnaya Polyana some 50 km outside of the Black Sea city of Sochi,
Police officers walk in front of the main station at Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in the western Caucasian mountains near Krasnaya Polyana some 50 km outside of the Black Sea city of Sochi,
Credit: Getty Images

The country of Iran and the city of Sochi, Russia, have no gay people – if you believe their leaders, that is. Anatoly Pakhomov, mayor of Sochi, told the BBC that gay people don’t have to stay in the closet in Sochi, because there are no homosexuals. “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life,” he said. “But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”

The off-color comment was reminiscent of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s now infamous 2007 remark that there were no gays in Iran. When the reporter challenged Pakhomov, he admitted that he wasn’t completely certain if his statement was accurate: “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”

Pakhomov did say that gay people are welcome as long as they don’t “impose their habits on others.”

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, on the other hand, pointed out that Sochi is home to a few gay bars. He mocked Pakhomov’s stance and said, “As far as I know there are several gay clubs in Sochi. How do they survive? Why they are not bankrupt?” At one of the clubs, drag queen Madame Zhu-Zha told the BBC that Sochi had a gay community and two gay clubs.

The site of the 2014 Winter Olympics has been a hotbed of controversy after Russia passed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality to minors in June 2013. Many celebrities are protesting the Olympics as a result.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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