A human rights group has written to US President Barack Obama to urge him to include LGBT people in the delegation sent to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Human Rights First expressed concern over recently introduced anti-gay laws in Russia, and wrote to the President asking him to include LGBT individuals in the US delegation to Sochi, in order to send a message of tolerance.

The letter read: “The selection of the members of the official U.S. delegations for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics is an important opportunity to signal to Russia and the world the priority the Obama administration places on equality and human dignity.

“We urge you to ensure that the U.S. delegation include prominent LGBT people – athletes, government officials and others – as well as allies of the LGBT community who will carry a message of tolerance and respect for individual rights and human dignity.”

Obama has already condemned the law, introduced by President Vladimir Putin in June, which bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors. 

In a statement on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “I think we’ve been very clear in our views about both the laws in place and the issues surrounding LGBT rights and our expectations of Russia when it comes to conducting the Olympics.”

As President Obama met with LGBT activists as his last official engagement during his trip to St Petersburg for the G20 summit, the activists also noted the significance of the fact that he met with them saying he “sent a signal”, to LGBT Russians.