Aug. 9 - Russian activists call for athletes to speak out against a new anti-gay law ahead of major track and field meet. Andrew Raven reports.
This is Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Some of the biggest stars in track and field will descend on this site in the coming days for the world athletic championships. But the event will be held amid much controversy. Activists are calling on the athletes to speak out against a new anti-gay law passed by Russian officials. "What is important to me is the position of the athletes themselves," says activist Alexei Daydov. "Their support is very important to us." In his blog, American runner Nick Symmonds was the first to criticise the law, saying he "disagreed" with it. Activists say the measure effectively bans gay rights rallies and prevents people from voicing support for homosexuals. But one of the legislation's chief proponents, lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, dismissed concerns as foreign meddling and lashed out at critical European leaders. "A contorted and perverted behavior is considered a value by them now," he said. "The European Union founders would have been terrified by those values which their successors now have." Russia - which has a rocky history when it comes to gay rights - will also host the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Games officials say they want clarification on how the law would affect athletics' signature event.