[Zoe Leoudaki]: In six months, Russia is set to host the Olympic Games in Sochi. In 2018, it will host the Football World Cup, while it is bidding for the World Expo 2020, the World Trade Fair. However, recently, the Russian government enacted legislation that prohibits supporting gay rights. This new law has caused many international reactions. A gay activist was attacked in front of the Parliament at the beginning of the year. Another six were arrested in July during a demonstration in Moscow. Homophobia causes violence, and this violence is currently escalating in Russia. President Putin adopted legislation that prohibits any kind of gay propaganda, as he characterizes it. The legislation was written by deputy Vitaly Milonov. [Vitaly Milonov]: We will require the police to support us to protect our children and to stop the propaganda of sodomy and pedophilia. [Zoe Leoudaki]: The new legislation is said to aim at protecting minors, by banning any public discussion on non-traditional sexual relationships. However, many argue that the new legislation attempts to criminalize homosexuality and the movement for gay rights in Russia. British activist Peter Russell in London believes the new legislation is part of a wider crackdown on civil groups in Russia. [Peter Russell]: We see journalists, human rights advocates, lawyers, and activists being harassed, arrested, sometimes on false charges. This new legislation moves within these frameworks. It’s part of an emerging authoritarianism. [Zoe Leoudaki]: Many in Western countries are boycotting Russian vodka. Last Saturday, thousands demonstrated in London and other major cities against the Russian legislation. British actor Stephen Fry asked athletes participating in the Olympic Games to show solidarity towards the gay, bisexual, and transsexual communities with a gesture. [Stephen Fry]: They only need to show some kind of solidarity during the games because the Olympic games will not be canceled. They don’t need to do something terrible; they can just do this. [Zoe Leoudaki]: US President Barack Obama also expressed his displeasure with the Russian legislation against homosexuals. However, Russians largely support Putin’s measures. [Peter Russell]: In Russia, Putin’s far-right regime aligns with the Russian Orthodox Church making homosexuality the Litmus test of Russian identity and culture. It’s a very good distraction tactic, and Putin and his party are deliberately exploiting it to gain politically and to cover their failures. [Zoe Leoudaki]:Russian officials, as well as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, insist that the law does not prohibit homosexuality but was implemented to protect children. However, gay activists emphasize that this new legislation was put into effect so that the government can arrest anyone who appears to support the rights of the gay community. Zoe Leoudaki, Voice of America, Washington.