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France’s president won’t attend Sochi Olympics

News comes as popular Moscow gay bar attacked yet again

Like EU commissioner Viviane Reding and German President Joachim Gauck, French President François Hollande will not be going to the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. Credit: wikipedia.org

French President François Hollande will reportedly not attend the Sochi Winter Olympics in February, joining European Union commissioner Viviane Reding and German President Joachim Gauck.

According to a report on Europe 1 radio, Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, announced that neither he nor Hollande will be going to the Games but reportedly didn't give a reason for the decision. While Gauck also did not say why he was not attending, Reding tweeted that she will "certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation." 

In August, Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron told Agence France-Presse that she had registered her country's concern about Russia's federal "gay propaganda" law enacted in June. "I was able to tell my Russian counterpart that France was worried by the adoption and implementation of the law . . . which challenges the freedom of expression of any person, whether they are LGBT or not, who wants to speak out on this subject."

At that juncture, Fourneyron had indicated that she was not in favour of a boycott. As outcry against the anti-gay gag law grew worldwide, Vitaly Mutko, Russia's sports minister, exhorted the global community to "calm down."

Even as President Vladimir Putin has sought to assuage fears about the law, telling the international community that he opposes hatred against people of a "nontraditional sexual orientaton," he recently used his state-of-the-nation address to portray his country as a defender of traditional values, saying calls for tolerance equates "good and evil."

According to a Guardian report, Putin referred to the West's "so-called tolerance" as "genderless and fruitless." The Huffington Post says the president also expressed concern over the "review" of morality norms taking place in various countries.

Meanwhile, the owners of popular Moscow gay bar Central Station have spoken out about yet another attack on the space over the weekend. They have reportedly written to Putin saying that the multiple incidents have targeted the LGBT community, Gay Star News reports.

Following its report about shots fired during a Nov 16 attack on Central Station, Queer Russia reported that the club was attacked again Nov 23, with the release of an unspecified "harmful gas" on the premises.

Last week, The Moscow Times reported that a Russian sitcom actor said gay people were a "living danger" to his children and that he'd put gays "all alive in the oven."