Out Olympian Matthew Mitcham Sounds Off on Russia's Antigay Legislation

'The way they are persecuting people in Russia is quite horrific,' says the openly gay gold medalist.

BY Jase Peeples

August 05 2013 4:17 PM ET

Matthew Mitcham has added his voice to the growing number of people who oppose Russia’s newly-passed law banning so-called LGBT propaganda, reports the U.K. Telegraph.

The Australian diver, who took gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics as an out athlete, called Russia’s treatment of LGBT people “horrific,” and worries for the well-being of LGBT athletes who will compete at next year’s Winter Games in Sochi.

“Their whole memory and experience is going to be marred by this stuff," Mitcham told the Telegraph. "They are going to be made to feel unacceptable, inappropriate, and it is a really awful, awful feeling. The Olympics are supposed to be somewhere where they can go to be relieved of that feeling."

Mitcham added the Olympics should be a “place where you can compete and feel that gender and sexuality is not an issue.”

Though the International Olympic Committee says it has “received assurances” that the country’s new LGBT propaganda ban “will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games” in Sochi, Russian legislators are clear the law will still be in effect and any LGBT athlete who is perceived to be propagandizing while in the country “will be held accountable.”

Tags: Sports

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