Green MP Caroline Lucas has written to Foreign Office Minister David Lidington expressing her “deep concerns” at Russia’s anti-gay legislation and says Britain should boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics – unless its moved from Russia.
Ms Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion, wrote to Mr Lidington, saying:-
I am writing to register my deep concern at Russia’s new anti-gay law, which criminalises freedom of expression. As you will be aware, President Vladimir Putin has outlawed public activism by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and imposed fines on those accused of promoting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” Amongst other things, this is effectively a ban on activities such as providing sex education and other support to young people exploring their sexuality.
There is also a growing climate of fear and discrimination in the country. Citing just one recent example of Russia’s refusal to uphold basic rights, Amnesty International (July 2nd 2013) report that:
“Last Saturday, a lawful LGBTI gathering in St. Petersburg was broken up by the police following a complaint that it violated a ban on “propaganda of homosexuality”. Activists were assaulted by anti-gay protesters. The police detained 55 LGBTI activists; at least one sustained serious injuries.”
Given the FCO’s track record of actively promoting LGBTI equality in Eastern Europe, I am incredibly disappointed that the British Prime Minister has not taken a strong stand against the explicitly homophobic laws in Russia and the state’s attacks on the LGBTI community. It’s not enough for Britain to set an example, we should also be actively fighting attacks on LGBT people across the world, and in particular by governments.
I am therefore, on behalf of a number of constituents, adding my voice to calls for the UK to boycott the forthcoming winter Olympics in Russia unless the host country meets its international human rights obligations, especially with regards to LGBTI rights. Such a move would send an unambiguous message that Britain stands for equality and fairness, as well as help build the pressure on President Putin to put an end to his crackdown on the LGBTI community. Please do what you can to stand up for LGBTI rights and also use your influence to urge the International Olympic Committee to take a strong stand against homophobia in Russia ahead of the Games and to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws.
I look forward to your response.
Hours earlier Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted to say it would not be appropriate to boycott the 2014 Russian Winter Olympics – but that he had great sympathy for the plight of the country’s LGBT community.
The PM was responding to last week’s open letter by broadcaster, actor and writer Stephen Fry, who had warned that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was making “scapegoats” of gay people in a similar way to Hitler’s treatment of Jews.
When asked if world leaders were doing enough, Fry replied: “Not at the moment no. No I think they could try more. I think basically the way to stop a tyrant like Putin is to inconvenience him – to do the things he least wants you to do and to mock him – to have contempt for him and not to talk to him directly [and] not to recognise him as the legitimate voice of Russia because I don’t think he is.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told PinkNews: “David Cameron says he opposes a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics, I want to know what he is going to do to challenge homophobia in Russia. So far he hasn’t given any answers and if he doesn’t come up with a plan he will in affect be colluding with the Putin regime.”