Demonstrators gathered outside 10 Downing Street yesterday to protest Russia’s treatment of LGBT people.
Urging Russia to reform it’s ‘homosexual propaganda’ law, LGBT activists including Peter Tatchell and British broadcaster Stephen Fry joined hundreds of people carrying rainbow flags and banners.
The protest was held on the same day PM David Cameron tweeted that he prefers not to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Over 350,000 people around the world have signed an online petition urging world leaders to relocate the Winter Olympics for fear of attacks on LGBT Olympians and spectators.
Cameron wrote: ‘I believe we can better challenge prejudices as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics.’
Cameron’s tweet was a direct response to Fry who earlier this week penned an open letter asking the IOC and Cameron to boycott the Winter Olympics.
Recognizing that the Olympics are unlikely to be boycotted, at the demonstration yesterday Fry urged athletes to ‘take the sweetness of victory out of Putin’s mouth’ by creating a symbol of solidarity like crossing their arms to silently protest the anti-gay laws without risking penalization. Estimates of the crowd range from 800 people to well over 1,000.
Cameron echoed President Barack Obama in saying a boycott of the Olympics would not be ‘appropriate’.
Obama said in a press conference earlier this week: ‘Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation than you’ve been seeing in Russia. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home some gold, silver or bronze which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing now.’
The IOC has received mixed messages from the Russian government as to whether or not the Russian law, which penalizes any perceived promotion of homosexuality with fines and imprisonment, will apply to foreigners attending the Winter Olympics.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin defended the ‘homosexual propaganda’ law to a group of protestors outside his residence this week saying: ‘We don’t have anti-gay laws. We have laws banning homosexual propaganda among minors.’
Russia’s sports minister said earlier this month that an athlete participating in the Winter Olympics would be held ‘accountable’ for propagandizing their ‘non-traditional sexual orientation’.