Russians plan 'gay games' in Moscow after Winter Olympics

Russians plan 'gay games' in Moscow after Winter Olympics
A picture taken on August 6, 2010 shows a man performing in the freestyle competition of the waterballet event on the pink friday party of the Gay Games in the western German city of Cologne. Paris, London and the Irish city of Limerick are bidding to host the 2018 Gay Games with a decision set to be made on October 7, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.

MOSCOW - A Russian group is planning to hold a "gay games" in Moscow days after the Sochi Olympics and is calling on international athletes to come and support the event.

Viktor Romanov, the chairman of the board of the Russian LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Sport Federation, said the event -- which will be for Russian amateur sportspeople -- was set to open in February 2014 after the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

"We are starting on February 26 so that people who want to -- sportspeople, officials, journalists -- can travel from Sochi to Moscow to support us," Romanov told AFP in an interview late Monday.

"We will be grateful to any official or any famous figure who comes to support us."

The group plans to hold the Russian Open Games in Moscow from February 26 to March 2, 2014, three days after the Olympic Games end in Sochi.

Romanov insisted the group was not breaking a controversial law signed by President Vladimir Putin in June that bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors.

"The law does not cover us because we are not doing propaganda of homosexuality, but propaganda of sport and a healthy lifestyle," Romanov said.

"We aren't breaking the law."

Nevertheless, he called the games a response to the homophobic climate.

"We understand very well that with this difficult time that we are in, we can't stand aside."

The federation does not need to apply for permission from the authorities to hold sports events -- unlike the organisers of gay pride protests.

"We will hire sports venues, they will be 'closed'... we will produce badges, special passes for all the participants," Romanov said.

He added that the organisers would inform the sports ministry, the Moscow city government and the police of all the events.

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