MPs encourage athletes and fans to wave pride flags at Sochi Olympics

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Two prominent gay MPs have urged athletes and fans to wave gay pride flags at the Sochi Winter Olympics next year to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Lesbian Conservative MP for Stourbridge, Margot James and gay Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, Stephen Williams, have both encouraged fans and athletes to attend the Russian Winter Olympics next year and to not be afraid to stand out in support of LGBT rights.

Ms James does not support a boycott of the Games citing the years of work put in by the athletes and performers but then went onto say that athletes and fans should not be afraid to attend and “make their presence felt” and went onto say those who wish to protest the anti-gay laws should do so in large numbers.

Mr Williams has released a statement calling on those attending the Games to stand up for human rights: “Athletes and coaches and everyone involved in the Winter Olympics should make it clear that human rights are universal. Maybe they could use medal ceremonies as has been done before.”

British Prime Minister, David Cameron has refused to back a boycott but has issued a statement saying that he is “deeply concerned” by the ongoing situation in Russia and that Britain will continue to raise the issue with the Russian Government.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg told that ““It is just totally out of order it is unacceptable in this day and age for any athlete to feel in any way intimidated or certainly to be discriminated against because of their sexuality.”

Russian President, Vladimir Putin has sought to calm the situation by claiming that the laws shall not interfere with the smooth running of the 2014 Games. However Russian lawmakers have said the law shall not be suspended with football chief Alexey Sorokin saying visitors have nothing to fear “if they don’t go out of their way to actively promote propaganda.”