symmondsNick Symmonds is officially the first athlete to criticize Russia’s draconian anti-gay laws on Russian soil, and did so after winning a silver medal at the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow:

US middle distance runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his 800-meter silver medal at the world athletics championships Tuesday to his gay and lesbian friends back home, becoming the first athlete to openly criticize Russia’s controversial anti-gay law on the country’s soil.

“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” he told R-Sport after running a 1:43.55 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. “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.”

Symmonds, 29, made his opposition to a new law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors known in a blog post for Runner’s World magazine on August 6.

Despite his outspokenness in the United States, he said he would he would not bring up the subject in Russia out of respect for the host country’s laws.

“I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people,” he said Tuesday. “I disagree with their laws. I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules.”

Joe points out that there is speculation, despite how carefully Symmonds worded his comments, as to whether his words put him at risk of being arrested. There will be more and more athletes who do this, though, and that just goes to show how appalled the rest of the world is by Russia’s actions.