U.N. urges Olympic social inclusion amid Russian gay rights storm

Wed Nov 6, 2013 3:19pm EST
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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly called on Wednesday for an international truce during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia and urged Moscow "to promote social inclusion without discrimination" amid outrage over the country's ban on gay "propaganda" among minors.

The 193-member General Assembly approved by consensus a resolution calling for an end to fighting around the world from seven days before the Winter Olympics start in Sochi in February until seven days after the Paralympics end in March.

For the first time, according to the United States, the resolution - which has been adopted regularly by the General Assembly for 20 years - called "upon host countries to promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind."

Russia triggered angry criticism and even calls to boycott the Sochi games when it adopted in June a ban on homosexual "propaganda" among minors. Critics denounced the law as discriminatory and a curb on rights to free speech and assembly.

"Sport embraces all segments of society and is instrumental in empowering people with diverse backgrounds, while fostering tolerance and respect for all people no matter what they look like, where they come from, where they worship or whom they love," U.S. delegate Elizabeth Cousens told the United Nations.

Sochi Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said that everyone was welcome at the games at Russia's Black Sea resort.

"During the games we guarantee that there will be no discrimination whether by religious or sexual or gender," he told reporters at the United Nations. "The president of the country three times repeated there will be no discrimination."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that everything was being done "so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation.   Continued...