Russian ambassador says country's anti-gay laws 'misunderstood'

Gay activists take part in a protest event called

Gay activists take part in a protest event called "March against Hatred" in St. Petersburg November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 3:38 PM ET

Russia's ambassador to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov, says Western nations “overreacted” in their concerns gay athletes would face discrimination at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which open in Sochi in February.

“You know what the main story is in Moscow today at this particular time? Elton John's concert,” he said Friday, in response to a question about the controversy during a news conference at the Russian embassy in Ottawa.

“It will be as tough to get tickets there as it to get to the hockey finals during the Winter Olympics. So you shouldn't be concerned.”

(Later that night, the openly gay pop singer spoke out about Russia’s new laws during his sold-out Moscow show, calling them “inhumane.”)

Western governments, activists and some private companies have been sharply critical of anti-gay laws brought in by Russia this year, which sparked calls for an Olympic boycott.

The laws ban the distribution of homosexual “propaganda” to minors.