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Canada blasts Russia over gay rights snub

  • photo_1377279133825-1-HD.jpg

    Protesters demonstrate against Russian anti-gay legislation in front of the Russian Consulate in New York, July 31, 2013. Canada's Immigration Minister Chris Alexander criticized Russia Friday for its recently enacted anti-gay law, saying it was a particular concern in light of its role as host of the upcoming Winter Olympics. (AFP/File)

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    Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander speaks in Ottowa on August 23, 2013. Alexander, who once worked at his country's embassy in Moscow, on Friday spoke out against a controversial Russian anti-gay law. (AFP)

Canada's Immigration Minister Chris Alexander criticized Russia Friday for its recently enacted anti-gay law, saying it was a particular concern in light of its role as host of the upcoming Winter Olympics.

"It's a real concern," Alexander said at an event in Ottawa to announce plans for a monument to commemorate victims of Communism.

"And it's a shame to see Russia isolated on this issue at a time when it is going to be welcoming the world" at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The minister called for "fundamental human rights and dignity" to be protected in Russia.

"In the particular context of an Olympic Games where people from all over the world, from all backgrounds will be in Sochi, it's important to make this point strongly," he said.

"I think it's important to keep speaking up against the voices in Russia that have taken the wrong position on this issue. We will continue to do that."

In June, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law punishing the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.

Activists say it can be used for a broad crackdown against gays and there are fears it could be used against athletes and others in Sochi.

It has sparked calls for a boycott in some quarters and Russian officials have said all athletes will have to obey the law at the Games.

Star Trek actor George Takei has suggested moving the Games back to Vancouver in westernmost Canada. The city hosted the Winter Games in 2010. Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition in support of the idea.