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Athletes Speak Out Against Russia's Anti-Gay Law


This week, hundreds of athletes are in Moscow competing in the World Athletic Championships, an international event focusing on track and field. Along with the competitions, there is also controversy over Russia's latest anti-gay law. That bill, passed in June, bans what it calls homosexual propaganda, and it's not sitting well with some of the athletes competing in Moscow.

When American runner Nick Symmonds won Silver in the 800-meter final Tuesday, he dedicated that win to his gay and lesbian friends back home. Here he is speaking to ABC News.

NICK SYMMONDS: You know, I think that Russia is an incredible country with great history. Are they perhaps a little bit behind the times, when it comes to this issue? I think that they are. And I think that in 50 to 100 years we're all going to look back and say, how could we have treated our gay and lesbian friends so poorly?

GREENE: Symmonds is one of the first athletes to openly criticize the law while on Russian soil and it didn't make everyone happy. Yelena Isinbayeva, a Russian pole vaulter and two-time Olympic Gold medalist, has come out strongly against those protesting the law, saying it is disrespectful of Russia.

With Russia hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi in just six months time, it seems likely this is a debate that we'll be hearing much more about. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.