Russia defends anti-gay law to IOC

In a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said his country would not discriminate against homosexuals during the Sochi Olympics, according to reports. The Olympic Charter protects against discrimination of any kind.

"The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety," Kozak said.

Russia's law penalizes anyone who distributes gay "propaganda" and has been condemned by human rights groups as giving cover for extremist groups to bully and harass gays. 

Kozak insisted the measure applies to everyone equally and “cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation.” He added that the legislation does not impose restrictions on sexual orientation and emphasized that the Russian constitution prevents discrimination.

He did not address the question of whether the law would apply to Olympic athletes or attendees who engage in behavior that could be considered propaganda.

The law has sparked an international backlash ahead of the Winter Olympics. Some lawmakers have called for a boycott of the Games, though President Obama opposes that option.

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