A petition which has gathered almost 80,000 signatures, calls for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to be relocated to Vancouver, following the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.

The Change.org petition calls on the International Olympic Committee to relocate the event to Vancouver, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

At time of publication the petition had been signed by 79,160.

It reads: “In 2010 [Vancouver] successfully held the games. The facilities are already in place and can be made, with support, ready in the limited time period to host another games.

“We appreciate your efforts in requesting Russia allow gay athletes to compete at the games, but this is not enough. The very nature of the original Olympics was to settle conflict through sport and not violence. You are now presented to adopt this stance as an organisation by removing the Games away from Russia, telling them we, the world, will not tolerate the abhorrent persecution of minority groups.”

Conservative MP Mike Freer today told PinkNews he is appalled by the Russian Government’s stance on gay equality and that he would like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider moving the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia.

Yesterday, author and television presenter Stephen Fry wrote an open letter to David Cameron, International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe, urging for the 2014 Winter Olympics to not take place in Sochi.

In a statement, the IOC said it “respected Mr Fry’s opinion” and the committee was clear that “sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation”.

On Thursday, the Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for Human Rights, Kerry McCarthy, told PinkNews that the UK Government needed to use next month’s G20 meeting in St Petersburg to raise the issue of gay rights with Russia.

Last week, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told PinkNews.co.uk that it was alarmed by the “growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia”.

A UK Government source also said that they anticipated the issue of homophobic oppression in Russia would be raised at the G20 Heads of Government meeting.

With international interest on the LGBT situation in Russia at an unprecedented level – on Thursday PinkNews published a collection of the most shocking LGBT stories to have come from the country in the past seven years.