The former Labour minister Denis MacShane has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to personally boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in protest at President Vladimir Putin’s “rank homophobia”.
Mr MacShane told the London Evening Standard: “I hope David Cameron will join President Hollande and Germany’s President Gauck in boycotting Putin’s Sochi Winter Olympics extravaganza in protest at Putin’s rank homophobia and his ugly authoritarianism in Russia and bullying of neighbours like Ukraine.”
The former MP added: “At this Friday’s EU Council, Mr Cameron should tell his fellow EU leaders he will decline any invitation to boost Putin until the Russian strongman starts to live by the European Convention on Human Rights and drops the gay-bashing, imprisoning artists [and] allows media freedom.”
In response, Downing Street said it “doesn’t usually talk about the Prime Minister’s travel plans in advance.”
“I wish these Games a lot of success, but there are no plans for top French officials to go,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio, although he refused to give a concrete reason for not attending.
Last week, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding announced on her official Twitter account that she would “certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation.”
However, both President Hollande and President Gauck have failed to state their official reasons for not attending.
Attempting to dismiss concerns about LGBT athletes attending February’s Winter Olympics, President Putin last month declared he was against “hatred” towards people of a “non-traditional sexual orientation” – whilst continuing to support the country’s homophobic legislation.
A federal bill banning gay “propaganda” was signed into law by President Putin in June.
It prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has warned athletes against making political gestures at the Winter Olympics, but plans to set up protest zones for them to “express their views”.
In November, Denis MacShane pleaded guilty to false accounting over parliamentary expenses.
He is due to be sentenced on Thursday. The maximum sentence for false accounting is seven years.
He served as Europe minister under Tony Blair between 2002 and 2005.