By Emily Goddard

Thomas Bach has taken part in a historic meeting with gay rights campaigners in Paris ©FGGNovember 30 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today took part in a historic meeting with gay rights activists in Paris to discuss the implications of Russia's anti-gay law at Sochi 2014.

Bach met with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups in the French capital after being unable to meet with Russian campaigners during an official visit to Sochi in October and promising a meeting at a later date to discuss the legislation that has cast a dark shadow over Russia's preparations for next year's Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Federation of Gay Games (FGG) co-President emeritus and diversity vice-president Emy Ritt and external affairs vice-president Marc Naimark were present at the meeting, along with Russian LGBT Sports Federation representatives Elvina Yuvakaeva and Konstantin Yablotskiy, who were flown in for the day by the IOC.

Ritt, who has invited Bach to the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland and Akron, told insidethegames that the meeting was of "crucial importance for truly inclusive sport".

"Until this meeting, our efforts to engage with the Olympic Movement had not been very fruitful, so we are very thankful for this new openness demonstrated by Thomas Bach," she added.

"We are convinced that this is just the first step in a process that will go beyond the immediate urgent issues related to Sochi and lead to an Olympic Movement, and a worldwide sporting environment, that is more inclusive and truly in the image of the principle of sport for all.

"The FGG is pleased to have been part of this first step, and looks forward to a broader and deeper dialog between the LGBT sports movement, the IOC, National Olympic Committees, international sports federations, and events around the world."

Emy Ritt presented Thomas Bach with a Gay Games participation medal ©FGGEmy Ritt presented Thomas Bach with a Gay Games participation medal ©FGG

While Naimark admitted that the FGG's appeal to the IOC to host a Pride House during the Games in Sochi will not be successful, he was pleased to see that the IOC "has no opposition to any initiatives from third parties, including the National Olympic Committees whom we've asked to host limited Pride House events".

The Russian LGBT Sports Federation also used the meeting to request that Bach provide a letter of support for the first international LGBT sports festival in their country, the Open Games - to be held in Moscow between the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.

"This letter is essential for overcoming the difficulties they have been experiencing in obtaining venues for the festival, and more important, to provide some degree of protection from threats and violence such as those experienced in recent days by the Side by Side film festival in St Petersburg," Naimark said.

"This may be the last opportunity for a visible LGBT sporting event in Russia for a very long time, and we're hoping that it will be possible with even a small degree of public support from the IOC."

The IOC confirmed that "a constructive meeting" took place.

The introduction of Russia's controversial law, which bans the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors and was signed by the nation's President Vladimir Putin in June, sparked widespread international outcry.

Much pressure has been placed on the IOC to clarify the consequences that could be faced by members of the LGBT community at Sochi 2014 and there have been calls for a boycott of the Games.

Putin last month promised Bach that athletes and officials at the Olympics will be welcome regardless of their race and sexual orientation.

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