NZ diplomat to assist gay Kiwi athletes at Winter Olympics

Blake Skjellerup (front) says it is upsetting to see Russia being so outwardly hostile toward homosexuals. Photo / Getty Images
Blake Skjellerup (front) says it is upsetting to see Russia being so outwardly hostile toward homosexuals. Photo / Getty Images

A New Zealand diplomat will watch over athletes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year amid concerns over Russia's law banning gay "propaganda'', the Labour Party says.

Controversial legislation outlawing "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors'' was signed off by President Vladimir Putin in June, sparking fears for the welfare of gay athletes competing in the February Games.

A delegation of New Zealand opposition MPs led by Labour's Louisa Wall approached Foreign Minister Murray McCully asking for his help in protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people at the Games from discrimination and harassment.

Ms Wall said the minister had told her that a a consular adviser would provide assistance to New Zealanders at the Games.

"Mr McCully also wrote to us saying that the New Zealand embassy in Moscow has raised with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs our concerns regarding the recent law changes.

The Embassy is continuing to monitor the human rights situation in Russia and is working closely with like-minded missions on this,'' Ms Wall said.

One of the few openly gay competitors going to Sochi is New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup.

He has previously said he plans to wear a rainbow gay pride pin while competing, even if there is a threat of arrest for doing so.

Russian officials have insisted the law is designed to protect children and does not infringe on human rights.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 27 Dec 2014 03:44:28 Processing Time: 597ms