Official says anti-gay law doing great damage to country’s reputation

Opera singer Maria Maksakova points to hate-crime growth and negative impact on artists

Russian State Duma deputy Maria Maksakova says the country’s law banning promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” among minors is doing great damage to the country’s reputation, saying it has led to the growth of hate crimes and is having a negative impact on the livelihoods of artists, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.

Maksakova, who is a well-known opera singer, was speaking at a meeting of President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia Party, a video recording of which was posted online, WSJ notes.

Maksakova commented on the hastiness of the anti-gay gag law’s passage and the lack of “thoughtful discussion” that preceded its adoption, saying the measure was tarnishing the upcoming Sochi Games “for which we have so long and anxiously prepared.”

Maksakova reportedly confirmed she made the comments, WSJ says.

The enactment of the “gay propaganda” law and other measures has sparked international outrage, leading to several protests at Russian embassies around the world, the picketing of concerts featuring Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, and calls for a boycott of Russian products and the Winter Olympics in February.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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