Pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva defends Russia's controversial new law against promoting homosexuality.
15 August 2013 Last updated at 20:24 GMT
World Athletics 2013: Isinbayeva speaks out against homosexuality
World pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has spoken out against homosexuality amid protests over new laws in her native Russia.
It is now illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality in Russia - leading to calls for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
She criticised athletes who painted nails in support of gays and lesbians.
"We are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves normal, standard people," said Isinbayeva.
The 31-year-old poster girl of Russian athletics - with two Olympic golds and 28 world records alongside her World Championships successes - is hugely popular in her home country.
And she expressed what she believed was her nation's position on homosexuality: "We just live with boys with women, women with boys.
"Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future," added Isinbayeva, after winning her third world title on Tuesday.
Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro painted her fingernails in the colours of the rainbow flag for Thursday's qualifying competition at the World Championships in Moscow.
"I wouldn't say it was a protest - more of a statement of what I think," said the 28-year-old.
"I usually do my nails in something that feels good for me and it was a simple way of showing what I think."
Swedish sprinter Moa Hjelmer also painted her nails.
Isinbayeva, whose image has been selling the Championships to Muscovites in much the same way Jessica Ennis-Hill promoted London 2012, added: "Everyone can participate, everyone can compete, but of course if they will promote sexual relations outside in the street it won't be respectable for a lot of our citizens because we are all, from inside of us, against it.
"We are against publicity but we are not of course about every choice of every single person. It's their life, it's their choice, it's their feelings, but we're just against the publicity in our country and I support that.
"We are Russians. Maybe we are different than European people, than other people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. It's my opinion also."
The law was passed in June and prescribes heavy fines for anyone providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18.
US athlete Nick Symmonds, who dedicated his 800m silver to gay and lesbian friends to highlight Russia's new legislation, told BBC Radio 5 live: "It blows my mind that such a young, well-travelled, educated woman would be so far behind the times.
"For most athletes from my generation it's not an issue, for the most part we believe in equality.
"I really wanted to compete with a rainbow sticker but it was suggested if I pushed it too far there was a serious possibility I'd go to prison.
"Serious injustices need to be pointed out. I came out here to win a medal but if I can bring this important subject some attention, that's something I'd like to do."
BBC pundits Denise Lewis and Michael Johnson were equally critical of Isinbayeva's stance.
Lewis said: "She is clearly not in touch with the rest of the world. I'm surprised her management didn't advise her to be a little more cautious with throwing her views out there. This is clearly very damning for her as a global superstar."
And former US track star Johnson told BBC Sport: "She is very popular over here with a small group of people who are very powerful and who probably buy into that view in this country. It is very flawed judgement and a very flawed opinion."
The legislation has caused concern across the world although both David Cameron and Barack Obama are against boycotting the Winter Olympics, with Obama saying it would be "inappropriate".
The head of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge has also asked Russia to explain how its new law on gay "propaganda" might affect next year's Games.
Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium has attracted only small crowds this week - except when Isinbayeva competed on Tuesday.
Former GB athlete and BBC expert Jonathan Edwards told BBC Radio 5 live many Russians would back their favourite sporting daughter.
"She's a product of a society in which she lives," said Edwards. "Over 90% of the population would endorse what Isinbayeva said, however abhorrent we find it in the UK.
"In my lifetime it was illegal in the UK so the whole world is on a journey here. I don't think a boycott of Sochi would be the right way to do it.
"But if the athletes of the world show solidarity with the world's gay community I think that would be the most powerful message we could give."
Russians are homophobic. News at 11? There is a reason these laws pass. They are popular within Russia.
That is why the onus is on the rest of the world to show Russia they are not okay with their bigotry.
If Russia had a law against say "interracial" dating and that any displays of it would be banned we all know what the reaction would be.
she's clearly a cane-lady (or pole lady in this case) herself.
Somebody needs to shove that pole up her rancid twat.
I'm so sick of Russians I could puke.
Isinbayeva says Green Tregaro's gesture was disrespectful to Russia
Yelena Isinbayeva defends laws banning promotion of homosexuality, having objected to Emma Green Tregaro's rainbow-painted nails
Alec Luhn in Moscow; theguardian.com, Thursday 15 August 2013 19.27 BST
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, the face of the Moscow world championships, has defended her country's controversial laws banning the promotion of homosexuality and criticised international athletes for showing support for gay and lesbian people during the competition.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist, who won her third world championship to roars of approval at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium on Tuesday, told a press conference that Swedish athletes who painted their nails in rainbow colours were being disrespectful to Russians.
"We consider ourselves like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys ... it comes from the history," she said. "[The protests are] disrespectful to our country. It's disrespectful to our citizens, because we are Russians," she said.
"Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules. We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful," the 31-year-old said.
The controversial new law, which will apply to athletes and spectators at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality to minors.
Earlier Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro and 200m runner Moa Hjelmer competed with their fingernails painted in the colours of the rainbow flag used by the gay movement.
Green Tregaro posted on Instagram a photo of her fingernails painted in rainbow colours, adding a caption that included the hashtag "#pride."
US middle-distance runner Nick Symmonds became the first international athlete to denounce the law on the country's soil after winning silver in the 800m on Tuesday. Symmonds dedicated his medal to his gay and lesbian friends and called for equal rights for different sexual orientations.
Russian LGBT activists condemned Isinbayeva's comments, saying they would add to discrimination agaisnt homosexuals.
"Her opinion will be heard, and it will affect the opinion of society. She's made her small contribution to the formation of homophobia," said Artyom Prozherin, a gay 23-year-old supply manager in Moscow.
"These kinds of words build up, and as a result in some place in the country they turn into aggression, violence or suicide," he added.
Activist Nikolai Alekseev said Isinbayeva was "one of heroes" of Russian sport. "What she says along these lines will be listened to by Russian viewers," he said. "What some Swedish or American athletes say doesn't worry anyone." Both men called on international athletes to express their positions at the Sochi games.
"Everything that will attract attention to LGBT and the homophobic law will be effective," Alekseev said. "It could be buttons, flags, statements during press conferences, interviews with Russian or foreign mass media."
"If the championships took place without any problems, everyone would say everything is OK for us. When people are expressing themselves they understand that this is just the start, there will be much more of this in Sochi," he added. "The foundations have been laid."
A Levada Center poll published in March showed that 85% of Russians were against same-sex marriage and 34% thought homosexuality was a disease. Surveys have shown rising homophobic sentiment in recent years.
What worries me, is that homophobes in the US will take Russia's actions as a template for treatment of gays here.
My pussy smells like a spring-fresh bouquet of roses compared to hers.
Not really possible, R5. The First Amendment has protected us even back when it was just 'crazy' Frank Kameny picketing the White House.
I saw this on Yahoo (old e-mail address) --- this just reinforced my opinion that the Yahoo commentators are among the scariest out there. She was like a folk hero to them and they were upset at people for criticizing her babbling about 1st amendment rights.
He should never be allowed to handle a pole again.
Major pole hound. Big Putin supporter.
especially sucks because she is HUGE in Russia and many Russians admire her and probably will only care about what she says.
Denise Lewis is the sister of Carl "Queen of the track" Lewis, right?
Yelena Isinbayeva is a cunt.
no, r12. denise lewis is british. she is a former olympic champion in the heptathlon.
After achieving World and Olympic Gold Medals, perhaps her new goal could be to pole vault into a giant grease fire.
I think that in general, athletes should shut the fuck up about things that don't have to do with athletics. Why should anyone care what an athlete has to say about social issues? They have dedicated their lives to their own bodies and most of them don't have the brainpower to focus on much else. I realize that's a stereotype and that there are exceptions, but we should consider the source.
She backed off her statement. Doesn't make her any less of a cunt.
While everyone is rightfully taking the time to call Yelena a scumbag, I would like to give kudos to Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro and 200m runner Moa Hjelmer for being two awesome women.
Are they just allies, or are either of them one of us, anyone know?
R19 - one of the female Swedish athletes is openly gay. I don't think it is Moa.
Swedish joy over the gold medal in women's 1500m didn't last long when Aregawi refused to support Tregaros' stand: "since my beliefs do not allow that sort of thing, I do not support it".
She sounds so intelligent.
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva: My anti-gay comments have been ‘misunderstood’
by Scott Roberts, 16 August 2013, 11:27am
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has said she may have been “misunderstood” when she made comments in defence of Russia’s anti-gay laws.
It follows criticism from British heptathlete Louise Hazel who tweeted “Yelena Isinbayeva’s ‘homophobic’ comments have no place in our sport!”
Hazel said to BBC Sport: “The International Olympic Committee should revise her position.”
The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion said it was important for the IOC to act and added that Isinbayeva’s views had left her disappointed and in “deep shock”.
“It should be their first point of call after the championships are over.”
Criticising Swedish athlete Emma Green Tregaro for painting her nails in the colour of the rainbow at this week’s Moscow World Athletics Championships, Isinbayeva said: “It’s unrespectful [sic] to our country, it’s unrespectful [sic] to our citizens, because we are Russians, Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands.”
She stated: “If we allow [them] to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people.”
On Friday Isinbayeva said she was opposed to sexual discrimination, and that her English comments in support of her country’s laws may have been misconstrued.
“English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday,” she said in a statement.
“What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests.
“But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes, and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality.”
Why should people necessarily respect the laws of other countries if they are ethically wrong? People are only speaking out anyway.
The whole thing is funny because Russians consider themselves to have won World War II and as you know, the concentration camps had gays along with Jews, gypsies, disabled people and other 'undesirables' in them. Well, this is how it started over there. Laws came in slowly restricting those people's normal freedoms.
Misunderstood my ass.
""We are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves normal, standard people," said Isinbayeva"
Honey, you are RUSSIAN...
Weird, savage people with a thick layer of cray-cray.
Emphasis on the "thick"
Watch her react in shock the next time she competes in western Europe and gets booed. Then she'll pull out the "I've been discriminated against." card. You know it's going to happen.
This was on NPR news this morning. Russia's homophobes are getting a lot of media attention.
Anyone know which one of the Swedish female athletes is openly gay?
Btw, I think Sweden, Canada and all the other pro-gay countries can be convinced to wear rainbow pins to the games.
Strength in numbers, the IOC can't punish everyone. So if entire countries worth of athletes do it, they should be able to get away with it.
I think Sweden and Canada would definitely be on board but which other countries?
Yeah, her apology was quite pointless. It is good that she or whoever advises her thought it was necessary at least.
I only know of Kajsa Berqvist, who is bisexual, but I think she's retired now.
She doesn't know her history if she claims it's not part of Russia's past. Gay Russians such as Gogol, Tchaikovsky, Nijinsky, Eisenstein, etc., have given their homeland and the world some of our most beloved and treasured art. She shouldn't be afraid, she should be fucking proud of that!
Do you really expect her to take a brave stand being so high profile? I am not making excuses for her but honestly she should have to declined comment if she doesn't believe in the law.
r23 Let's strike a flint and find out?
[quote]Why should people necessarily respect the laws of other countries if they are ethically wrong? People are only speaking out anyway.
I think this is probably where Isinbayeva's English could do with some improvement, R24. In many European languages laws and regulations are 'respected' whereas they are only 'observed' in English. I don't think her initial statement meant anything more than that.
Of course, a law that fundamentally disrespects a sizeable proportion of the world population is never going to garner international respect.
R35, you need to read her initial statement again. She said that gays aren't normal, regular people and that they cause problems. And that the Swedes simply painting their nails different colours was disrespectful.
And, R33, she *does* believe in the law from what I can see.
"Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future," added Isinbayeva, after winning her third world title on Tuesday."
Ms. Isinbayeva, please meet your problematic gay history:
Peter Ilych Tchaikowsky, Czar Ivan IV, Prince Felix Yusupuv. Sergei Diaghilev, Leon Bakst, Alla Nazimova, Sophia Parnok, Marina Tsvetaeva, Vaslav Nijinsky, Erte, Leonide Massine, Pavel Tchelitchew, Alexsandr Aleksandrovich Deineka, Boris Kochno, Serge Lifar and Rudolph Nureyev.
[quote]The whole thing is funny because Russians consider themselves to have won World War II and as you know, the concentration camps had gays along with Jews, gypsies, disabled people and other 'undesirables' in them. Well, this is how it started over there. Laws came in slowly restricting those people's normal freedoms.
They hated Jews and gypsies then and still do.
You'd think with all of their booze-swilling that they would be more inclined to be swingers.
Never trust the boozehound Russians!
What a twat. Take her medals off her for her recent hate messages!!
What a fucking dick!!!
All it took was a couple of women painting their nails in rainbow colors to make this bitch go off? All this scrutiny must be getting to the russians, i guess they're a prickly bunch.
Great, now stupid jocks get to yack all they want as if their opinions are important.
If painting fingernails drives this bitch nuts then she just proves what an idiot she is.
Excuse me a "misinterpreted" idiot.
Go back to your athletic competition. It's the only useful thing you do. Leave the thinking to people with useful brains.
she sure knows who pays and backs up her lifestyle. daddy pu.
Not all the dumb jocks in the world are male.
Lots of back-pedalling here as it dawns on loud mouthed political activist athletes like Isinbayeva that they need visas to compete or travel to the West and countries like Germany,Holland,France,Sweden,Canada,Norway,Finland might just decide that Russians need to be protected from Western contamination they so obviously fear.
Many of the Russian politicos have homes in France,Switzerland and the UK and their children are educated in Elite Universities in the UK,USA and elsewhere - certainly not in the old USSR.
If gay people are so scary then they just better stay home.
If the Western perks were removed the wives would go ape-shit.
Same with the IOC - has there ever been a bigger roving pack of corrupt parasitical jet setters on the planet?
More like sponsor pressure. I don't think governments would stop her visas?
Russians are some of the most nasty, cheating, vile people I have ever encountered.
Russians have horrific body odor.
These Olympics should be BANNED by any person with a conscience regardless of orientation.
I just can't believe watching all these events and not seeing athletes and governments declaring a ban.
Humanity has learned NOTHING from the 20th century - NOTHING!!!!
She now says her words were taken out of context
Yeah? Along with all their other bad qualities, Russians lie.
Who are her shoe and equipment sponsors? Go after them to drop her.
О_о скоко пидаров!!!
ну ниче, скоро вас муслимы всех вылечат=)))
How the mighty have fallen!
If the Russians are now so frightened of nail polish and rainbow pins perhaps they should retreat behind their own borders if they are afraid of Western contamination.
That means the elite politicians and athletes must remove their children from the universities in the UK,Switzerland and the USA.
Sell off their properties in France and for the athletes,stay on your own side of the border and compete only with your "pure" countrymen and the like minded.
Refuse those endorsements from MultiNational corporations that have same sex benefits for their employees as well.
And above all,keep your wives away from the Chanel counters less some sassy sales bottom squirt her with the vinegar filled display decanters.
Oh those Russians!
[quote]This was on NPR news this morning. Russia's homophobes are getting a lot of media attention.
Her words being taken out of context?
Okay, why don't people put the blame where it belongs now: THe Olympic committee. And will President Negro have the BALLS - like another Democrat, Jimmy Carter (yes, I'm old) did - to have the US boycott????
Please take your pathetic racism to storm front where it belongs R59.
President Negro? Fuck you, R59. You sound just like a Russian.
There also different reactions from Russian athletes:
MOSCOW: Female Russian Gold Medalists Kiss On Podium In Defiance Of Law Against "Homosexual Propaganda"
I wouldn't be surprised if Yelena uses enhancement drugs. I really dislike hypocrites, she looks like a lesbian herself.
Racism and homophobia are almost favorite Russian pastimes. This incident happened this last season. But they do want to let you know that they aren't racists, BTW. They are misunderstood victims who want to celebrate their ethnicity. We've heard this before, haven't we?:
The largest fan group of Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg have demanded the club refrain from buying black and gay players following turmoil surrounding the acquisition of Brazil striker Hulk.
"We're not racists but we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition," Zenit fan club Landscrona said in a letter, called the "Selection 12 manifesto", posted on its website.
"It would allow Zenit to maintain the national identity of the club, which is the symbol of St Petersburg."
Zenit have been the only top club in Russia to have never signed an African player while the northern city of St Petersburg is known to have a strong right-wing nationalist influence.
The fans said they want more home-grown or European players in the team.
"We only want players from other brotherly Slav nations, such as Ukraine and Belarus as well as from the Baltic states and Scandinavia. We have the same mentality and historical and cultural background as these nations," the letter said.
They also expressed their opposition to having "sexual minorities" in the team and demanded that each player would give "101 percent effort" in every match.
Several prominent black players have turned down lucrative offers from the wealthy club over the past 12 months after receiving death threats from Zenit fans, local media reported.
A Zenit spokesman said on Monday the club would not comment on the fans' letter.
Former Zenit and Russia striker Alexander Panov said the fans have no right to influence the club's selection policy.
"If we don't have enough good players from St Petersburg, then what should the club do?" the St Petersburg native was quoted as saying by local media.
"All clubs around the world have black players. If they are absent from Zenit - it's Zenit's problem. I don't think fans should demand the club buy or don't buy certain players. The fans have the right to go to the stadium or stay home."
Zenit have been in turmoil for the past few months with several senior players unhappy after the wealthy club splashed out more than $100 million on Brazilian Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel just before the transfer deadline.
Zenit demoted Russia skipper Igor Denisov to the reserve team in September after he refused to play, issuing an ultimatum to renegotiate his contract in line with what Hulk was making.
Denisov was later allowed to rejoin the first team after making an apology.
"And above all,keep your wives away from the Chanel counters less some sassy sales bottom squirt her with the vinegar filled display decanters."
Charge them $250 per bottle and they wouldn't even notice.
Eau de Vinaigrette...because you're worthless.
At least if there is a boycott, the athletes would not have to be surrounded by all that Russian B.O.
God knows those people stink.
We haven't heard from Rich Russian Lady yet.
Again she said her words were taken out of context
"Taken out of context." That's the get out of jail card, R68? She said gay people aren't 'normal.' What context is needed?