Lord Browne’s campaign for gay rights stops at the Kremlin

Former BP boss shocks his supporters by defending Putin’s homophobia

Associate Business Editor

He’s been lauded for speaking out against homophobia in the business world, after leaving his top job at an oil firm when his relationship with a male escort was revealed by a Sunday newspaper.

Just days ago he won support for saying companies should take a proactive stance in combating anti-gay attitudes in Russia by sending gay employees there.

But former BP chief executive Lord Browne of Madingley has now risked irritating gay rights campaigners by trying to explain Vladimir Putin’s motivation for introducing homophobic legislation.

In his new book, The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good for Business, published on Thursday, Lord Browne admits that Mr Putin “appears to be behind a drive against homosexuals” and criticises Russian rhetoric “reminiscent of the bureaucrats in Italy in the wake of the bubonic plague”.

However, he then insists the Russian President is pursuing the controversial policy because he is a “pragmatist”.

“To me, Russia’s anti-gay legislation is more about political posturing than it is about a sincere disgust for gay people,” Lord Browne writes.

“As others have pointed out, it is likely he is seeking to divert attention from other restrictive laws, passed at the end of 2011 in the aftermath of mass protests, that more broadly limit civil rights. In an echo of persecutions of the past, the homosexual minority is being used as a pawn in the pursuit of power.”

However, campaigners feel Mr Putin’s actions deserve no explanation. Richard Lane at Stonewall, told The Independent: “Attacks on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people are often the ‘canary in the coal mine’ ahead of a broader crackdown. Whatever Mr Putin’s motives, the results are devastating to those fighting for fundamental human rights.”

Lord Browne insisted last night he was in “total agreement” with Stonewall. The group has been infuriated by Russia’s increasingly homophobic attitude, encouraged by Mr Putin saying that gay visitors were welcome to the Sochi Winter Olympics before warning them to “leave children alone, please”.

Lord Browne started working with Mr Putin at the turn of the millennium. For seven years they met frequently, with BP even gaining access to Russia’s oil through a major joint venture, until Lord Browne quit the firm. They had never discussed his sexuality and Mr Putin had never indicated his attitude to gay rights.

The Glass Closet argues that young gay employees should come out early at work and that businesses should foster a tolerant working environment that allows them to be open about their sexuality. Lord Browne says this will result in a more productive workforce. In the book’s prologue, he writes: “I wish I had been brave enough to come out during my tenure as chief executive of BP.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world