Marc Weinreich
Thursday August 15th, 2013

Pole-vault great Yelena Isinbayeva spoke out against homosexuality on Thursday. (Kirll Kudryavtsev) Pole-vault great Yelena Isinbayeva spoke out against homosexuality on Thursday. (Kirll Kudryavtsev)

Two-time Olympic pole-vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva spoke out against homosexuality Thursday, criticizing competitors who painted their fingernails with rainbow colors to support the LGBT community in the wake of a new anti-gay law in Russia, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

According to an AP report, the 31-year-old Russian native who won her third world title earlier this week at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, voiced her support Thursday for a Russian anti-gay law passed earlier this summer that criminalizes "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors." Wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for example, could be seen as propagandizing. The International Olympic Committee and FIFA are seeking clarification from the Russian government because it remains to be seen whether the new law will be enforced when the country hosts international competitions, such as the 2014 Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.

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Isinbayeva said Russia should not move away from "boys with woman, woman with boys," adding that she doesn't want anything to change because Russia never had any problems:

"If we allow 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. We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys...Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future."

Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro, who took home a bronze medal at the 2005 worlds, posted a picture to Instagram on Wednesday of her rainbow painted nails saying "Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow" with the hashtags #pride and #moscow2013.

Isinbayeva called actions by Green Tregaro and other Swedish athletes who have shown support for LGBT rights while in Russia "unrespectful to our country."

"It's unrespectful to our citizens, because we are Russians. Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands," Isinbayeva told reporters. "We have our home and everyone has to respect (it). When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules."

The International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body for high-jump, pole-vault and other running, jumping and throwing events, awarded Isinbayeva its Female Athlete of the Year award in 2004, 2005 and 2008. The IAAF said it has to respect both Green Tregaro's and Isinbayeva's opinions regarding homosexuality:

"The IAAF constitution underlines our commitment to principle of nondiscrimination in terms of religious, political or sexual orientation. Allied to this is our belief in free expression as a basic human right, which means we must respect the opinions of both Green Tregaro and Isinbayeva."
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