Mayor says there are no gays in Sochi

Gay rights continue to be a lightning rod leading up to the Winter Games in Sochi.

Michael Heiman/Getty Images

The mayor of Sochi has claimed there are no gay people in the 2014 Winter Olympics host city, according to a BBC report

"We don’t have them in our town," said mayor Anatoly Pakhomov through an interpreter.

But when the BBC reporter pressed if the mayor was sure, revealing he had recently visited a Sochi gay bar, "I’m not sure," Pakhomov responded. "I don’t bloody know them."

Pakhomov went on to say anyone "who respects the laws of the Russian Federation" will be welcome to the town, so long as they don’t "impose their habits and their will on others." 

This comes after a maelstrom surrounding anti-gay legislation in the lead-up to the Olympic games.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said gay visitors would be welcome despite a law against distributing "non-traditional sexual relations" propaganda to minors. 

"We have no ban on the nontraditional forms of sexual intercourse among people," Putin has said. "We have the ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia." 

Mayor Pakhomov echoed Putin’s sentiments that all would be welcome to the city, regardless of sexual orientation. 

"Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian Federation and who doesn’t impose their habits and their will on others," Pakhomov said. "But yes. Everyone is welcome."