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Concern for gay rights ahead of Russia's Sochi Olympics

Source: Reuters - Thu, 30 Jan 2014 06:34 AM
Author: Reuters
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The 2014 Winter Olympics kicks off in the resort of Sochi on February 7 and Russia is doing its best to ensure that the world sees sparkling new stadiums, state-of-the-art ski lifts, and freshly paved roads.

The games are being touted as one of the most expensive in history. But underneath this glitzy facade is a darker side.

Human Rights Watch says concerns are growing over Russia's treatment of migrant workers and the introduction of legislation outlawing the promotion of homosexuality.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) WOLFGANG BUETTNER FROM HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH DEUTSCHLAND, SAYING:

"What is very important for us is that the situation in Sochi reflects the complete human rights situation in Russia. So altogether in Russia we have problems with working migrants, there is a huge constraints on the civil society and there is also the discrimination against and intimidation of lesbians and gays."

In the UK, protesters have been making a song and a dance about Russia's gay propaganda laws, which critics say foster a culture that persecutes homosexuals.

The British government is in step with demonstrators, agreeing to give extra funding to gay rights groups operating in Russia.

The sporting event has already been dogged by concerns over freedom of speech and security....and now amid fears that homophobic attacks are increasing, it appears these human rights issues will compete to overshadow the opening of the Sochi games.

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