British Prime Minister Will Confront Russian President Over LGBTQ Rights
By Brody Levesque | LONDON, UK -- A British official confirmed Wednesday that British Prime Minister David Cameron will confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over LGBT rights in Russia during a previously scheduled private meeting later this week at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.
The official told LGBTQ Nation that Cameron intends to question the Russian leader over the impact of the "anti-gay propaganda law" signed earlier this summer by Putin which has led to widespread global condemnation and criticism.
Tuesday, the British Under Secretary of State from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alistair Burt, held a meeting at his Whitehall office with Human Rights Peter Tatchell activist and Marie Campbell from the activist group All Out and briefed them on the Prime Minister's decision.
Speaking afterwards with British media, Tatchell said;
“While we welcome David Cameron’s commitment to raise gay rights with President Putin, we also want him to put the issue on the G20 summit agenda and to get other G20 world leaders to sign a joint declaration against homophobia. This would be a very effective rebuke to Putin,” Tatchell said adding, “We put this request to Alistair Burt at our meeting with him. He offered to forward it to David Cameron for his consideration."
The meeting with Burt coincided with a global protest, Speak Out, held in 33 cities in 21 countries, organised by All Out and Tatchell's Peter Tatchell Foundation. Referring to the protests, Tatchell said;
“Today's [Tuesday’s] global protests let Putin know that the world is watching and that people in many countries object to his government’s anti-gay policies. We also sent a signal to Russian LGBT people that they are not alone. We stand with them in solidarity,” he said.
“In June, President Putin signed legislation that effectively bans positive debate or portrayal of LGBT people and relationships.
As well as being a direct attack on freedom of expression, which is guaranteed in the Russian constitution, the new anti-gay law is part of a wider attack on civil society. We oppose all infringements of human rights in Russia."
The Russian leader, in an interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television late Tuesday, had sought to ease international concerns that Russia’s new anti-gay law would be used to punish athletes who display rainbow flags during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, while also insisting that gays are not discriminated against in his country.
“I assure you that I work with these people, [LGBT People] I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields,” Putin said.
“We have absolutely normal relations, and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.”
During a joint press conference in Stockholm with Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt Wednesday, President Barack Obama reiterated his support for LGBT people living in Russia under the anti-gay law.
"We share a belief in the dignity and equality of every human being. .. that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law. That our societies are strengthened and not weakened by diversity," the president told reporters.The White House had announced Monday that Obama is scheduled to meet with Russian Human Rights and LGBT Activists Thursday during his visit at the G20 summit.