Tory MP Mike Freer: Putin must be told to scrap anti-gay laws or risk losing Winter Olympics

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Conservative MP Mike Freer has told PinkNews he’s appalled by the Russian Government’s stance on gay equality and that he would like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider moving the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia.

Speaking to, the gay MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said: “I understand the revulsion at the actions of the Russian Government but sports boycotts haven’t proved to be effective and it seems that the only people hurt by any boycotts are the athletes who stay away. Many gay athletes do not support a boycott. 

Mr Freer, who advises the Conservative Party leadership on LGBT policies, added: “The Russian Government would ignore any boycott but that doesn’t mean the IOC and governments shouldn’t be telling Putin to scrap his discriminatory laws or the IOC will look to relocate the Games. A boycott is unlikely to work – taking the Games away would. In the meantime gay athletes should be prepared to compete, openly and proudly, debunking Putin’s views on homosexuality by winning medals. In the end, if Putin won’t move, the Games should.”

Yesterday, author and television presenter Stephen Fry wrote an open letter to David Cameron, International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe, urging for the 2014 Winter Olympics to not take place in Sochi.

In a statement, the IOC said it “respected Mr Fry’s opinion” and the committee was clear that “sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation”.

“The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games,” a spokeswoman said.

In response, the government said it was working closely with organisers to ensure the Games were free from discrimination.

Gay US figure skater Johnny Weir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that boycotting the Winter Olympics would be “silly”.

”To attack Russia is silly. It’s not Russia’s public’s fault that their government is so bigoted and creating so many problems for a minority group,” Weir said.

LGBT groups based in Russia, such as the Russian LGBT Network, are also opposed to a boycott of the Games.

On Thursday, the Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for Human Rights, Kerry McCarthy, told PinkNews that the UK Government needed to use next month’s G20 meeting in St Petersburg to raise the issue of gay rights with Russia.

Last week, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told that it was alarmed by the “growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia”.

A UK Government source also said that they anticipated the issue of homophobic oppression in Russia would be raised at the G20 Heads of Government meeting.

With international interest on the LGBT situation in Russia at an unprecedented level – on Thursday PinkNews published a collection of the most shocking LGBT stories to have come from the country in the past seven years.