Speaking at a press conference held on the final day of the athletics world championships in Moscow, Vitaly Mutko, Russia's sports minister, likened being gay to drug abuse.

Mutko told reporters on Sunday that a recently approved law that prohibits “gay propaganda” to minors would not infringe on the private lives of athletes and spectators attending next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

According to the AP, however, Mutko's comments strongly suggested that the law would be enforced during the event and that he appeared to liken the relationships of gay couples to substance abuse.

“We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations,” he said.

“I can say once again that the freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected.”

Russian officials have made similar comments in the past, drawing a line between a ban on gay sex, which is legal in Russia, and a ban on public discussion of homosexuality or what the law calls “propagandizing.”

“In my view, Western media, media outside Russia, give more attention to this than we do in Russia,” Mutko added.