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Petition started to urge Team GB to wear rainbow colours at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

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A petition has been started to urge Team GB to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics so as not to put athletes at a disadvantage, but calls for them to wear rainbow colours in solidarity with the Russian LGBT community.

Some campaigners have called for the British team to pull out of the competition, and campaigns have been started to boycott Russian products in protests against recently introduced anti-gay legislation, but the new Change.org petition calls for athletes to wear rainbow colours for visibility.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

Last month, the International Olympics Committee said in a statement that it had received reassurance from the Russian government that athletes and spectators will be exempt from the country’s anti-gay laws.

But sports minister Vitaly Mutko said in a recent interview: “The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors”.

The new petition reads: “Russia, the next site for the Olympic Winter Games in 2014, is committing some horrible human rights violations. We cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of not only Russian citizens, but those citizens of other nations that are endangered by the anti-LGBT laws that have been created in this part of the world. We need to stand up and put pressure on them to change.

“Calling for the United  Olympic Committee to withdraw the team from competition, and boycott Sochi 2014 is not intended to punish the athletes who have worked hard for this opportunity. It is our hope that all Olympians will stand with us and speak out against these violations, and let the world know that we cannot in good conscience participate in these games if Russia insists on oppressing its citizens.”

The 2014 Winter Olympics takes place in the Russian city of Sochi next year.

Another  petition urging the UK Government to strongly advise the British Olympic Association to boycott the Winter Olympics has attracted more than 9,200 signatures.

However, the Russian LGBT Network, representing LGBT people in Russia, announced on its website that it was opposed to a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – arguing participation is an important way of highlighting injustice.

An international coalition of sport and human rights organisations yesterday rejected calls for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, in favour of long-term change and visibility action.

Four Dutch tourists shooting a film about gay rights in Russia were arrested last month, the first foreigners to be detained under the new law.

The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.

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