A gay Norwegian minister said today he will attend the Winter Paralympics in Sochi with his husband, amid controversy over the rights of homosexuals in Russia.
“I will be present at the Paralympics to support and cheer on the Norwegian participants,” Health Minister Bent Hoeie told AFP in an email, confirming his intention to be in Sochi with his husband from Mar 14-16.
“Having said that, I think it’s obvious for most people what a gay married man thinks about the situation for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people and families.”
The 42-year-old member of the conservative coalition governing Norway since last October is married to Dag Terje Solvang, a senior advertising executive.
Last June, Russia passed an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ bill banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors, which has given rise to international criticism and calls to boycott the games.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in January homosexuals had nothing to fear when going to Sochi.
“You can feel calm and at ease. But leave the children alone,” Putin said.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, head of a country that prides itself on having excellent relations with neighbouring Russia, has confirmed her intention to attend the Sochi games.
However, other world leaders including US and French presidents Barack Obama and Francois Hollande have declined.