During a gathering with Winter Olympic volunteers in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured the public that gay visitors will be welcome to attend the games. However, Putin also warned gay visitors to "leave the children in peace."
Putin asked that gay visitors respect Russia's law banning the spread of gay "propaganda" among minors.
"We don't have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations," he said. "We have a ban on promoting homosexuality and pedophilia among minors."
The assertion comes inspite of gay rights activists across the globe who have demanded a boycott of the Olympics on account of the anti-gay legislation Russia passed in June, the BBC reports. The law says that individuals that share information about homosexuality to children age 18 will face heavy fines.
The anti-gay sentiments reverberated throughout the country has in fact resulted in a number of foreign dignitaries foregoing the games. President Barack Obama is among those who have said they will not be attending. Instead, Obama has designated a number of openly gay athletes to represent the U.S. at the Olympics.
Though Putin continues to defend the new law, he reiterates that homosexual athletes and visitors will be well received. He pointed out that Russia does not consider homosexuality a criminal offense.
"We aren't banning anything, we aren't rounding up anyone, we have no criminal punishment for such relations unlike many other countries," he told The Associated Press.
Putin also addressed the public's fear over recent terrorist attacks that took place in the Russian city of Volgograd and the possibility of attacks during the winter games.
"I think the international community should unite to fight such inhuman phenomena as terror attacks and the murder of totally innocent people," Putin told the BBC.
He continued by saying that Russia would boost its security measures in ways that would not detract from the Olympic experience.
Putin also said that the Sochi Games was not a manifestation of his "personal ambition but the direct, concentrated interest of the state and our people."
He said that he expected the games to be a much needed morale boost for the Russian people.
"After the collapse of the USSR, after the bloody events in the Caucasus, the general mood of society was somber and pessimistic, and we need to give ourselves a shake," Putin said according to BBC.