Winter Olympics 2014: Britain must make clear that it totally opposes Russia’s treatment of LGBT people

When Maria Miller travels to Sochi next week, she must seize the opportunity to raise the issue of LGBT rights with Russian officials

Share
Related Topics

In less than a week's time, the eyes of the world will be on Sochi as the Winter Olympic flame is lit, and the nation's hopes and cheers will be with our athletes as they go for gold. However, while we cheer on Team GB, we must not lose sight of the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia.

Since the passing of legislation last summer by the Duma which made the “promotion” of LGBT relationships to under-18s a federal offence, human rights campaigners report a serious deterioration in the rights and status of LGBT people in Russia. In 2012, Gay Pride marches were banned in Moscow for the next 100 years, and campaigners have been prosecuted AMID reports of increasing violence and brutality.

Although Russia has given the International Olympic Committee assurances that no individual travelling to Sochi will be subject to this legislation, comments by President Putin, and most recently by Anatoly Pakhomov, the Sochi Mayor who warned visitors not to “impose their habits on others”, do little to ease concerns about the position of those travelling to Sochi to enjoy the Games.

It is a stark reminder that, while we have come a long way in the UK in the last 20 years, individuals across the world face prejudice, imprisonment, torture and even execution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

That is why when Maria Miller travels to Sochi next week, she must seize the opportunity to raise the issue of LGBT rights with Russian officials, and she must meet with Russian activists to build stronger links with the UK Government and UK organisations working on LGBT rights.

Russia must be under no illusion that the UK abhors the discrimination and persecution of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and identity. President Obama has set the example, naming prominent openly lesbian and gay athletes, such as Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow as part of the US delegation.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have provided us some of the most powerful examples of human courage and diversity, from Jesse Owens's four gold medals in Berlin in 1936 to  the Jamaican bobsleigh team of 1988 . As Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter tells us: “Sport does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise”.

As LGBT History month begins, we must recognise the power of sport in overcoming prejudice and use the Sochi Olympics to work to improve LGBT rights, both in Russia and across the world.

Just as in 2012 the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London became a celebration of incredible diversity, these Winter Olympics must be no different.

Gloria De Piero is shadow Minister for Women and Equalities

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are looking to recruit two ...

Primary supply teachers required in Ipswich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Science Technician

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A school in Preston require a S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron and Ed Miliband attend the Queen's Speech on 4 June 2014  

Scottish referendum: It's hard for us Labour supporters to admit, but Cameron did good here

Rob Marchant
NO ballots are stacked on a table during the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum: Some divorces are meant to happen – this one wasn’t

Dotti Irving
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week