Gay Norwegian minister to take husband to Sochi Paralympics

Tue Feb 4, 2014 6:49am EST
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By Balazs Koranyi

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's health minister will make a point about gay rights in Russia by attending the Sochi Paralympics with his husband, but the Dutch king and prime minister are under pressure to boycott the main Winter Games.

President Vladimir Putin has faced calls for a boycott of the Olympics, which open on Friday, over a law banning the spread of gay propaganda among minors which has threatened his attempts to use the Games to showcase Russia as a modern state.

The Paralympics will be held in Sochi after the main Games.

"I cannot wait to watch and support all the Norwegian athletes," said Health Minister Bent Hoeie, who will be the Norwegian government's official representative at the Paralympics. "These are athletes with disabilities who perform at a very high level."

Speaking to the Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper, Hoeie said it was normal for a cabinet official to travel with a spouse on such an official visit.

"Having said that, everyone understands what two married men think about gay rights," Hoeie told the newspaper.

Norway has won more Winter Olympic medals than any other nation and is likely to finish high in the medal table in Sochi. Oslo is also bidding to host the 2022 winter Olympics.

Gay activists say the "homosexual propaganda law", signed by Putin last year, has caused a rise of homophobia and hate crimes against gays, casting a shadow over the $50-billion Games.   Continued...