Petition calls for British boycott of Russian Winter Olympics because of anti-gay laws

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A petition has been started with a view to having the British Olympics Association boycott the Russian Winter Olympics next year, in the wake of the passage of anti-gay legislation.

The petition, which has been signed by over 3,000 people so far, calls on the British Government to advise the Association not to take part in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

It reads: “With the increasingly homophobic stance being taken by the Russian government and parliament, including calls to arrest LGBT tourists. I call upon the UK Government to strongly advise the British Olympic Association to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.”

Earlier this week, responding to human rights groups, the International Olympic Committee released a statement calling for the acceptance of all athletes in the wake of Russia’s recently passed anti-gay legislation.

The statement was released in the face of concern from human rights groups that LGBT people will not be safe in Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. 

“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” it said.

“The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.”

The upper house of the Russian Parliament voted last month to approve both a bill banning adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples and the nationwide anti ”propaganda” bill banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors.

Earlier, the Duma, or lower parliamentary house, unanimously voted 443-0 to approve the draft law on adoption, as well as related amendments to Russian family law.

The bill, which has since been signed by President Vladimir Putin, bans foreign same-sex couples and unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex marriage is legal from adopting Russian children.

Under the laws, foreigners can be arrested, and detained for up to 15 days, as well as being subject to fines, and deportation.

Last week, speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT citizens following concerns about gay athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics.