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AT&T Stands Against Russia’s Anti-Gay Law, Company Says in Blog

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc., the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, stands against Russia’s anti-gay law, the company said a blog post published three days before the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Dallas-based carrier said today it’s supporting the Human Rights Campaign request to International Olympic Committee sponsors to take a stand against the law, which bans homosexual “propaganda.” AT&T isn’t a sponsor, though Atos, Dow Chemical Co., Coca-Cola Co., General Electric Co., Panasonic Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. all said earlier through their press services that they had raised the issue with the IOC and expect all to be welcome, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaliy Mutko said in August that athletes and spectators attending the Feb. 7-23 event would face arrest, fines and deportation if they violate the law, which officials say is intended to protect children. The maximum punishment for foreigners is 15 days in prison. Russian President Vladimir Putin said later that he’ll prohibit any discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality at the games.

“As the games begin, we’re here to support and inspire American athletes who’ve worked hard and sacrificed much to achieve their dreams,” AT&T said in the blog post. “We also want to be on record with our support for the LGBT community, and we hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same.”

Campaigners in Russia, including a Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual group, say that the law is so vague that it could apply to any open display of homosexuality and that it encourages violence against gays.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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