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IOC says gay Winter Olympians welcome despite Russia's anti-gay laws

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The official Sochi mascot will be in big trouble if he's gay.
The official Sochi mascot will be in big trouble if he's gay.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Russia is becoming increasingly a more repressive places for gays and lesbians, as the government is about to pass a gag law that will mean hefty fines for anyone giving LGBT information to children or holding a gay rights march. Despite this, the International Olympic Committee says it will still welcome LGBT athletes to next years' Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"The IOC would like to reiterate our long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games," a spokesman told Gay Star News. "The IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games."

That's all well and good, but it's hard to see how this would comfort any open LGBT Winter Olympian.Earlier this year, openly gay speedskater Blake Skjellerup said, "I just want to be myself and I hate to think that being myself would get me in trouble."

While the rest of the West is going forward on gay issues, Russia is heading in the opposite direction. With the Games less than a year away, there's no way the IOC will want to rock the boat too much. Going forward, however, the IOC must consider a bidding country's record on LGBT issues before awarding an Olympics. No country with Russia's laws should ever get the privilege of hosting again.