Russian athletes Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova shared a kiss on the medal stand Saturday after winning gold at the World Athletics Championships in the 4×400 meter relay, sparking a debate over whether the gesture was a sign of celebration, or a defiant protest of their country’s anti-LGBT laws.
Neither athlete has released a statement about the kiss and it was unclear Sunday if it was in protest. The kiss nevertheless is a slap in the face of Russia’s law banning any form of “homosexual propaganda.” While Sky News seems certain that the kiss was a political statement, others aren’t so sure. Gay Star News says it is “unclear” whether the kiss was merely a sign of affection or whether the athletes were “blatantly defying Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws since neither of the athletes have released a statement.”
Regardless, the kiss could land the athletes in legal trouble considering it expressly goes against the much-criticized law that bans anything that may be seen as a promotion of homosexuality.
Earlier in the week, another Russian track athlete, Yelena Isinbayeva, backtracked on comments that appeared to support the law.
“If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people,” said Isinbayeva Thursday. “We just live with boys with women, women with boys.”
LGBT activists have called for a boycott of the upcoming Sochi winter olympics in protest over the law, which grants officials the authority to arrest gay people or those suspected of being gay.