Russia's Winter Olympics Under Fire Over Country's Anti-Gay Policy

There's worry over athletes competing in 2014 Winter Games because of new anti-gay laws.
9:12 | 08/08/13

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Transcript for Russia's Winter Olympics Under Fire Over Country's Anti-Gay Policy
This is a special report from ABC news. I'm Dan cuts or New York -- this ABC news digital special report. The 2014 winter Olympic Torch is scheduled to arrive in so -- on Russia's Black -- in less than 182. Days. But Moscow's embrace of a rash of new anti gay laws is throwing McCain's -- turmoil today. Gay rights group all out delivered a petition signed by more than 300000 people from all around the world. Delivered to the International Olympic Committee. In Switzerland and officials there have received the complaint and accompanying letters from former American Olympian Greg Louganis. And British writer and actor. Stephen Fry. For the latest on how Russia is receiving this and any potential moves by the Olympics -- joined now by ABC's care -- -- via -- from Moscow. -- -- thanks for being with us what exactly does this petition say what is it asking of the IOC and the Russians. -- well this petition is asking the IOC to protect. The athletes and fans -- going to be attending the games next year this law does say that anybody who spreads -- the -- Propaganda. Of nontraditional sexual relationships can be find thrown in jail and even deported. That's all code word of course for brigade. Speech and gay -- -- even talking about homosexuality around miners in Russia is illegal. And these petitioners want to make sure that people who will be going to the games will be protected. And we have heard about some gay athletes -- so that they are going to be wearing a rainbow flag candy are going to be displaying at any kind of way that they they so choose and that's. Obviously causing a lot of -- -- -- Yeah right I mean that would go right in the face of the law and did just a short while ago -- sports minister of Russia said that that he urged all these protesters to in his words calm down. But he did say that people athletes included will be held accountable under the law he's making the point that. That's sports and politics should not be should not be mixed but at the same time saying that the country has its laws perhaps -- respect. Well let me ask you this thing here. Is -- from outside outside of Russia the rest of the -- kind of see it perhaps a little bit differently because. We're not the host country clearly on this is Russia being seen as being somewhat tone deaf to the kind of pressure that's being built in up around it from this. Yes they certainly haven't been making much of the outrage overseas you know in the United States -- been called -- boycott the games. Boycott Russian products like vodka. But in Russia that. Not the case. He's also actually -- very popular here. To -- homophobia is extremely. Widespread throughout the country. You have to keep in mind that homosexuality was illegal under the Soviet Union was only decriminalized in 1983. And until 1999. -- homosexuals can still be joining the psychiatric wards so in that the mindset here has been sort of in that said it -- in that mindset sort number of years and debt and those laws again are extremely popular here. Now given the fact that obviously -- -- that kind of pressure but the International Olympic Committee is also under a great deal of pressure as well. Death threat lot of calls for the IOC to speak -- to condemn this law. But they so far have refrained from doing so the attorney general statements about the need to be inclusive -- in the spirit of the games. But they are trying to stay away from the politics surrounding it. Did the IOC has said that they are assured have received assurances from top Russian officials. That athletes and fans will not be targeted during the games we've asked the IOC ever and ever since -- warnings from Russian officials have come out. That the law will remain in effect during the game -- -- the IC belt that and they have said that that they're seeking those assurances. So she just I guess to make sure that that we are understanding -- the IOC has been given its assurance that fact that its athletes spectators and those that are going over there. Are going to be protected yet Russia says in fact it's not going to -- on its law. You know there it's a mixed signals from Russia about this just last Thursday the sports minister came ounces -- -- would remain in effect. There was immediate outrage around the world after that comment. And the next day some other Russian officials came -- -- that that would not be the case. And then did speak again you've got comments from the sports minister again and others. Suggesting that that coated in -- at least suggesting that athletes. An obligation to follow the country's law also some mixed signals being sent for sure from Russia. Against the -- saying that they are going to that they are satisfied but he assurances they've received. Now the tonight show's Jay Leno asked President Obama he was on the show just a couple nights back and he asked about the potential for a boycott. Just a few nights ago and I want to listen to the president's response -- -- If Russia. -- Uphold the Olympic spirit than it -- judgment should be made on. The tracker in the swimming pool or on the balance beam and it's people sexual orientation should never had to do. Are so what do Russia have to -- -- Right well so far the Russians have been brushing aside all of the international criticism about this. They've been -- the -- that this is their own sovereign law. And did they don't seem to really be engaging very much on the international criticism at this point the administration about administration has pulled out of one on one talks with clerical and hasn't been previously scheduled ahead of the G-20 summit. Not the White House citing a number of reasons for pulling out from -- snow -- the NSA -- to Syria. There will be Olympics become another sticking points. Well you know the US has had a history of pulling out of -- in in Russia before -- miracle 1982 US boycotted. The summer games in in Moscow over the -- -- convey an invasion of Afghanistan. Acting scenes that experience there's been there's a big backlash from athletes to train their entire lives for this event and then worked it will compete on the world stage. And I think that experience has has tempered people's. Actions this time around certainly. I I don't expect that that will be -- -- growing calls this of course but so far none of them coming from the administration. But the comments you saw from President Obama were more explicit than he's ever been before. Perhaps now that he -- that this summit. Coming up ahead of him. You'll be more liberated in his ability to -- to speak out for -- what do you -- like on the streets there as far as any kind of local opposition to this. You know there is a a a small but vocal gay rights movement here -- -- but. You know did these movie you should see some of the video sometimes that are online these people are attacked when -- during. Gay rights protests. There -- often arrested for holding unsanctioned protest because there permits are often rejected to hold a protest. There is like I said 88 and large anti gay sentiment throughout the country. And it really is the majority of people that do not feel that that homosexuality is a natural thing and dead. And and there are many people who factually it's completely justified to attack homosexuals is -- -- -- -- got a little bit deeper and -- is that is that the majority in support simply out of silence or -- the vocal support. No wait it's really not silence it didn't really is that according to most polls here majority of the country supporting restrictions on not supporting this law which which prohibits speaking homosexuality around minors. And it really just -- -- towards homosexuality. Are are extremely negative throughout the country. And last that is when -- -- from your own personal observations what is even -- on streets and sidewalks and cafes -- things that have you seen intensity grow over the past couple of weeks. You know Beers like I said there's a small group of vocal supporters of gay rights here that stand up -- the beatings the eggs being thrown at them. The arrests happen every time -- protest. But other -- That no I mean it really is something that's happening outside of Russia. I think you know -- -- if you talk to. -- -- -- lose the -- believes in true you know who may be more educated in. In in cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg you'll find a higher percentage of people. That that supported but still -- I would not say that it's a majority it's. It really is a country that is still even if not holiday not everyone is hostile towards gays certainly very wary of them. All right ABC's here Roddy via Skype in Moscow -- thank you for your time and your insight. 300000 -- has been delivered to the International Olympic Committee asking to condemn Russia's anti gay laws. All ahead of the Winter Olympics coming up in 2014. -- have a complete report on For now I'm Dan -- -- New York with this news digital special report. This has been a special group. Report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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