The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has told PinkNews.co.uk that it’s alarmed by the “growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia”.
On Friday, an FCO spokesperson said to PinkNews.co.uk: “It is of great concern that Russia has passed a law which imposes fines for the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations.
“We have repeatedly raised our concerns about the growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia, including at the 2013 UK-Russia Human Rights dialogue in May. The Prime Minister outlined our concerns about the human rights situation in Russia with President Putin during a meeting in Downing Street in June ahead of the G8 Summit.
The spokesperson added: “We have updated our travel advice for Russia to reflect the new law and to give British travellers the information they need to make their own informed decisions about travelling to Russia.
“Human rights form an important part of the UK-Russia relationship and we will continue to pay close attention to developments in this area, and take further opportunities to urge Russia to demonstrate that it is governed by the rule of law and respects human rights.
“We will continue to use all opportunities to raise human rights concerns with the Russian authorities, including forthcoming bilateral meetings.”
Last month, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT people following concerns about LGBT athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.
Speaking exclusively to PinkNews.co.uk, the Liberal Democrat leader said: “It is just totally out of order it is unacceptable in this day and age for any athlete to feel in anyway intimidated or certainly to be discriminated against because of their sexuality.”
A UK Government source told PinkNews.co.uk that they anticipated the issue of homophobic oppression in Russia would be raised at the G20 Heads of Government meeting, which is taking place in St Petersburg next month.
The Russian city became the first in the country to ban public displays of LGBT expression and Pride events last year.
Although Manchester City Council is urging St Petersburg to drop its homophobic censorship laws – the council has confirmed that it won’t be severing ties with the city, because it wants to maintain dialogue.
In letter to Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, US Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, said: “I am especially concerned with the provision of the law that allows for the possible detention of foreign citizens for up to 14 days before they would be expelled from the country.”
Senator Markey added: “Many members of international athletic delegations, their families, spectators, and support staff proudly identify as members of the LGBT community. I believe it is essential for them to both feel and be safe from arrest, detention, and other forms of discrimination while in Russia.”
Ambassador Kislyak is yet to respond publicly to the letter.