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Olympian Matthew Mitcham dives in to Russia's gay debate

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Daily Telegraph
|
August 5, 2013
Issues: 

Olympian Matthew Mitcham says new Russian laws, which would see athletes at next year's Sochi Winter Olympics jailed if they are involved in any type of gay pride activities, are "horrific".

The Russian government has warned those who wear a rainbow pin or T-shirt or wave the gay pride flag face jail terms under laws signed off by President Vladimir Putin in June. Even gay couples holding hands is illegal.

The gold medal-winning diver from the 2008 Beijing Games said the laws were in violation of basic human rights.

"It's really sad," Mitcham said. "The way they are persecuting people in Russia is quite horrific." Mitcham said Russia's stance would hinder performances and take away the joy of the Games experience. "The Olympics is the best experience you will ever have as an athlete," he said. "Their whole memory and experience is going to be marred by this stuff. They are going to be made to feel unacceptable, inappropriate, and it is a really awful, awful feeling.