Shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle: ‘We can’t ignore homophobic Russian laws at Sochi’

Joseph McCormick January 30, 2014
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The Shadow leader of the House of Commons Angela Eagle has spoken out about the persecution of LGBT people in Russia ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics and has asked for the Government to outline what will be done to express those views.

Speaking today during Business Questions, Ms Eagle made the comments about the Sochi Winter Olympics, which will take place beginning in February.

She said: “The Winter Olympics in Sochi get underway next week and I am looking forward to cheering on our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. But we can’t ignore the homophobic laws which the Russian Government has recently passed and the resulting vicious crackdown.

“In an attempt to downplay the law, President Putin has assured us that some of his best friends are gay whilst praising Elton John as an extraordinary person. And the Mayor of Sochi has claimed that there are no gay people in his town at all.”

Going on she asked what the British Government planned to do in order to voice its opposition to the persecution of LGBT people.

“Surely the reality is that when LGBT people are oppressed, assaulted and killed in Russia, it is our duty to stand up for them. Will the Leader of the House therefore outline what the government will be doing to make our views on the unacceptability of this repression crystal clear to President Putin?”

The Russian President in June signed a law which banned the “promotion of non-traditional relationships” to minors, causing an international outcry.

The UK’s Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, who will be representing the British government at next week’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi yesterday confirmed that the UK is channelling support to LGBT activists in Russia on BBC Tonight.

President Putin chose the Black Sea resort for the G8 summit of major world powers this June.

On 15 January, PinkNews confirmed Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, will attend the Winter Olympics.

In December, PinkNews revealed that Sports and Equalities Minister Helen Grant also plans to attend the Winter Olympics – although Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed he would not.

In the same month, US President Barack Obama named several gay sports stars as part of America’s delegation – but confirmed that he will not be attending the event himself.

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.

German President Joachim Gauck also said he was not going to Sochi.

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.”

The mayor of Sochi, the Russian city which is hosting the Winter Olympics from 7 February, has said there are no gay people in his city.

Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin claimed gay people would be welcome in Sochi, providing they “just leave the children alone”.

“We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” he said. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia.”

In a subsequent interview, Putin denied accusations of homophobia, saying he was not prejudiced as he was on “friendly terms” with several people who are gay.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last week dismissed criticism of the country’s anti-gay laws, claiming not a single gay person in Russia has complained.

Related topics: Angela Eagle, anti-gay laws, David Cameron, Europe, G20, Moscow, putin, Russia, Russia, sochi, sochi olympics, Sochi Winter Olympics, Sochi Winter Olympics 2014, St Petersburg, Stephen Fry, Vladimir Putin, Winter Olympics, Winter Olympics 2014

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