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

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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Recruitment Genius: IT Installation / Commissioning Engineer - North West

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Programmer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Bridgend based software de...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Mininster: I would legislate for abortion on demand and abolish VAT on sanitary products

Caroline Criado-Perez
 

Election catch-up: Just what the election needs – another superficially popular but foolish policy

John Rentoul
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence