Nightly News   |  January 06, 2014

Russia Faces Pressure to End Anti-Gay Laws

Six months after the Russian government passed a law banning "homosexual propaganda" the international outcry from activists and athletes grows. NBC News' Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> a month to go until the winter olympics in sochi, russia , and as you are about to see, some of the drama surrounding some of the games has nothing to do with winter sports and everything to do with the host nation. tonight, we hear from people in russia who are at the center of this. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk.

>> reporter: even if the sochi gangs are a glowing success, russia 's chance to shine on the world stage could already be hurt. six months after the government passed a law on what it calls homosexual propaganda, the retired olympic gold medal winners is one of three openly gay athletes in president obama 's delegation.

>> i wanted to represent the country, and so part of that and part of the commitment to doing that is speaking about my sexuality when i get there.

>> reporter: doing that comes with a certain level of risk. the russian government has said the law will stay on the books. in his state of the union address last month, russian president vladimir putin called the ban a defense against the infertile western intolerance.

>> president putin does not recognize the right of any outside actors to analyze, criticize, and tell russia what is right or wrong in its domestic affairs.

>> reporter: to the relatively few russians who are openly homosexual, it can be difficult. 74% of russians think homosexuality is not acceptable. 17-year-old slovski left high school after being bullied. he believes the new law is fuelling the hatred.

>> now, our national tv channels openly portray gays as enemies of the state .

>> reporter: the human rights watch says the olympic committee is in a unique position to criticize the russian government .

>> the ioc has been absolutely disappointing. the olympic charter describes the olympic movement as something that supports human dignity , equality.

>> reporter: the ioc says it is not their role to question the domestic laws of the nation and has reminded athletes that political demonstrations are banned by the olympic charter . stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york.