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State Department to Russia: No arresting gay Olympians if we can help it

US Gays Russia
A gay rights activist chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the Russian consulate in New York, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

U.S. diplomats will urge Russia to guarantee that gay athletes at the 2014 Olympics do not face arrest over their sexual orientation, but the State Department dismissed the idea that the United States might boycott the games over the policy.

“We are calling on Russia to uphold its international commitments regarding freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression now and in the future, also calling them, of course, to protect the human rights of all people attending or participating in the Olympic Games,” State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters today.

“I don’t have any details on diplomatic discussions on the issue at this point to read out for you, but again, this is something we feel strongly about, and we can talk about more leading up to the games,” she said.

Russia recently passed a law banning “propoganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” legislation that can be used to target openly-gay people.

“If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority,” Vitaly Milonov, the law’s original sponsor, said according to ABC News.

Harf dismissed the idea that the United States might boycott the games (a proposal that was previously floated by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and then denounced by other government officials  in the context of the Edward Snowden extradition fight).

“I don’t have anything new for you on that,” she told reporters.