A group representing gay and lesbian Russians living in the US is calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia due to the country’s anti-gay stance.

“LGBT people in Russia are scared, they live in fear, and we want people to be aware of the issue,” Nina Long, co-president of RUSA LGBT, told RIA Novosti.

She called on athletes and participants to refuse to attend the Games, which will be held in the host city of Sochi.

“If they feel strongly about human rights they should boycott the Olympics in Sochi,” Long said, adding that, “We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there”.

The issue appears to be concerning the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which said in a statement that “athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games”.

“They have to put up the statement like that, otherwise it’s an international scandal, but it’s a lie… it’s just to make it hush-hush and nice on some international level,” Long said.

RUSA LGBT is planning to use the upcoming New York Pride parade as a platform to publicise its boycott.

In March last year, a judge ruled that plans to host a gay ‘Pride House’ during the 2014 Winter Olympics would undermine the security of the Russian state, contradicted basic morality and would lead to a reduction of the population.

The first Pride House was launched during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada, and was a space for gay visitors, athletes and coaches to relax, watch events and meet friends in Whistler and Vancouver. A Pride House was also hosted during the London Games.

Russia is becoming increasingly inhospitable towards its LGBT citizens. Cities, including St. Petersburg and Moscow, have banned Gay Pride events from taking place and some have recently enacted legislation barring “the promotion of homosexuality.”

Last week, the lower house of the Russian parliament passed a federal bill that will also ban any public discussion or depiction of homosexuality.

Last month, in separate incidents, three Russian men were murdered by members of the pubic in connection with their sexual orientation.

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