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World Championships 2013: US runner Nick Symmonds speaks out against Russia’s anti-gay laws after winning silver in Moscow

Runner dedicates medal to gay and lesbian friends

US runner Nick Symmonds has become the first international athlete to take a stand against Russia’s anti-gay laws while inside the country after winning a silver medal at the World Championships.

After finishing the 800m at this summer’s World Championships in Moscow on Tuesday in a time of 1:43.55, the 29 year-old middle distance specialist dedicated his medal to his lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends at home in the US – and launched an outspoken attack on the controversial legislation.

Mr Symmonds, speaking exclusively to R-Sport, said: “As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them. Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights.”

“If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested,” he added. He went on to say that he respected Russia’s government but disagreed with its laws.

Russia’s vaguely worded ‘gay propaganda’ law has sparked criticism of Vladimir Putin’s government from the gay community, including actor Stephen Fry and campaigners who have called for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi to be boycotted.