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article imageOp-Ed: Three Russian men get light sentences for gay murder on Sochi eve

By Robert Weller     Feb 3, 2014 in Lifestyle
Sochi - Three Russian men convicted of the premeditated murder of a gay man have received relatively light sentences on the eve of Sochi Winter Olympics.
The case is likely to draw attention as Russia is being heavily criticized for effectively making it a crime to demonstrate homosexual love in public. Some athletes have said they will not attend the Sochi Olympics in protest, and several major nations have declined to send high-level delegations or have chosen gay rights activists to represent them.
Ria Novosti said the men believed the victim was gay, lured him into the rural forested area in the Kamchatka region and beat him and stabbed him to death before setting his body on fire.
Their sentences ranged from nine to 12.5 years.
Russia has suspended its death penalty indefinitely, according to Wikipedia. However, in most countries premeditated murder gets life sentences at the very least.
The BBC reported prosecutors said the killers murdered the man "out of personal hatred, based on their conviction that their fellow villager's sexual orientation was non-traditional."
Human rights groups have “documented many verbal and physical assaults on gay people” in Russia since a law restricting their rights was passed last year, the BBC said. Last month a Russian editor was fined $1,500 for writing that gays are normal.
The men convicted in the latest case were not charged with a hate crime.
Forty human rights groups sent a letter to corporate sponsors of the games urging them to put pressure on Moscow to end discrimination against gays.
Russian President Putin says gays violate his country’s traditions, and the nation wants to make sure they do not influence children.
Given Russia’s pathetic record on human rights over the generations, especially the clampdowns on opposition groups, Putin has been ridiculed.
U.S. runner Nick Symmonds said he has spoken with “members of the gay community in Russia who said they had been treated better under Soviet rule than they were currently being treated under Putin's leadership, and wanted to lend my support in any way I could."
British Culture Secretary Maria Miller told the BBC: "We are already putting in place additional support to make sure that gay rights organizations have got the sort of support and expertise that I think can make a real difference with the work they are doing on the ground in Russia."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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