Gay rights controversy on sideline at worlds

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07:53 PM August 14th, 2013

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August 14th, 2013 07:53 PM

In this file photo taken on Monday, May 30, 2011, Russian lawmaker Yelena Mizulina speaks during a news conference on proposed legislation to curb the number of abortions in Russia, in Moscow, Russia. Mizulina has used her position as the head of the Committee on Family, Women and Children to author increasingly conservative laws, including a new Russian bill outlawing “homosexual propaganda” that was signed into law in June. AP

MOSCOW — Competitors at the world athletics championships are keeping their eyes focused on the finish line and relegating the controversy over Russia’s new ban on gay “propaganda” to their peripheral vision.

The law, passed in late June, has prompted strong calls among Western activists for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, which Russia will soon host in Sochi.

The intersection of politics and sports can be awkward, as this year’s world championships demonstrates. The competition is being held at Luzhniki Stadium, the main venue used for the 1980 Moscow Olympics that the United States boycotted.

Although the athletes at the worlds won’t be competing in Sochi, it’s the first major sports event hosted by Russia since the law was passed. It’s also seen as an informal test event for the Olympics.

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