The president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has expressed a desire to set up a show in Russia, and when asked, said he had no knowledge of anti-gay legislation introduced in June.
Dana White, who has stood up against homophobia in the past from within his ranks of fighters, said on Wednesday that he wants to set up a UFC show in Russia.
“We’ve got to go there first,” he said, speaking of co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta. “We’re going to talk to the right people and we’re going to figure whether we’re going to do this or not.”
Saying he did not know when he would visit the country, he was asked about the law of which he said: “No, I know nothing about it.”
The UFC now has a code of conduct which prohibits “derogatory or offensive conduct” when it comes to “ethnic background, heritage, color, race, national origin, age, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.”
President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. Other laws banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples, and one which enables organisations receiving funding from abroad to be fined as “foreign agents”, were also passed.
The laws have so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.
The international football governing body FIFA has since called on Russia to give “clarification and more details” about anti-gay laws introduced in June ahead of the 2018 World Cup due to take place in the country.
White recently commented on a controversy in which a fighter asked whether equal marriage would lead to incest, by saying that he “should leave talking to smart people” and “stick to finger painting”.