The UK’s Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, who will be representing the British government at next week’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi has confirmed that the UK is channeling support to LGBT activists in Russia.
Speaking to the BBC tonight, Mrs Miller, who is also the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are already putting in place additional support to make sure that gay rights organisations have got the sort of support and expertise that I think can make a real difference to the work on the ground in the Russia.”
Mrs Miller added that the British government is supporting LGBT rights campaigners in Russia because it wants to “state very clearly that as a country we believe in freedom of speech and we believe in the importance of universal human rights.”
Princess Anne, a former Olympic equestrian competitor, London 2012 chief Lord Coe and Mrs Miller will lead the British delegation.
David Cameron will not attend the event. A spokesperson said: “We are confirming that the Prime Minister is not attending, and that reflects that it is not usual for the Prime Minister to attend. However, the Prime Minister will be in Sochi later this year for the G8.”
President Putin chose the Black Sea resort for the G8 summit of major world powers this June.
For the first time since 2000, the US will also not send a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Winter Olympics.
Several days before, French President Francois Hollande announced he would not be attending the Games.
However, both President Hollande and President Gauck failed to state their official reasons for not attending.
Someone who did state her reasons for not attending was EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. She 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.”
“We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” he said. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia.”