Skip to main content

A poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin sporting makeup is carried during the Vancouver Pride Parade in Vancouver, on Sunday August 4, 2013.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Stephen Harper has waded into the controversy over Russia's new anti-gay law.

Speaking in Miramichi, N.B., the prime minister says Canadians expect his government to defend human rights.

Harper says Canada is not a country where people are jailed or killed for their political positions or for engaging in certain consensual acts between adults.

Story continues below advertisement

Earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also expressed hope that the controversy would be resolved before the Winter Games in Sochi begin in February.

The controversial Russian law bans so-called "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on people who stage gay pride rallies.

Russia says it has no intention of changing the law as international pressure builds ahead of next year's Games.

"I think it's important to recognize there are some controversies in this matter, but the reality is that our position is that we don't imprison or kill people for acts committed freely between adults," Harper said.

"We don't imprison people for their expressing political positions. I think our position in this regard represents the position of Canadians and they expect that we speak in favour of these rights."

For his part, Baird expressed concern about what the anti-gay law will mean for Canadian athletes and spectators at the Games.

"We are concerned, obviously, about Canadian athletes and other participants, spectators and attendees of the Olympics there," Baird said during a conference call with journalists.

Story continues below advertisement

"But we should be very clear: they're only going to be there two or three weeks. The people of Russia will have to deal with this law 365 days of the year, every year. Let's hope that decency will prevail."

There have been calls for protests, a boycott and petitions to move the Games to Vancouver, where they were staged in 2010.

Baird, who is in Brazil on trade talks, says the furor over the law is a chance to put President Vladimir Putin's Russia under the microscope.

"We've got an important opportunity for the free world to be able to focus on what's happening in Russia in the recent weeks and months, and hopefully that can yield a change."

The foreign affairs minister also says he was pleased that the International Olympic Committee asked the Russian government to clarify parts of the law.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said Russia provided written re-assurances about the law on Thursday, but some parts remain unclear.

Story continues below advertisement

"We are waiting for the clarifications before having the final judgment on these reassurances," Rogge said.

U.S. President Barack Obama also spoke out against the law on Friday, saying he was deeply offended by it. He expressed hope that some gay and lesbian athletes will win some medals, something he said would "go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there."

Russia's sports minister has said Olympians must respect the country's laws during the Sochi Games.

However, the Russian government says it will respect the private lives of Olympic athletes.

With files from The Associated Press

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter