Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, Russia, is happy to offer the city’s hospitality to gay people who might visit as part of the Winter Olympics. From his understanding, however, those visitors will be the city’s first gay people ever. In an interview with BBC Panorama, Pakhomov said that if there were any gay people in Sochi, he doesn’t “bloody know them”:
“Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and doesn’t impose their habits on others”, he said.
But when asked whether gay people had to hide their sexuality in Sochi, the Mayor said: “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”
When challenged, the mayor admitted that he was not certain there were no gay people in Sochi: “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”
Pakhomov clearly isn’t very familiar with his city, which has two gay clubs. In fact, an AP story described the resort town as having been a “gay hub in Soviet times.” Vocativ highlighted photos from one of the two clubs last year, Mayak, which is the Russian word for “lighthouse.”
The mayor’s remarks resemble similar comments made by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007, proclaiming that there were “no homosexuals” in Iran.