London to stage September protest against homophobia in Russia

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Another demonstration against Russia’s anti-gay laws is due to take place in central London next month, it has been announced.

A Day of Action – Love Russia, Hate homophobia – will be held on Tuesday 3 September opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, just two days before the G20 summit opens in the Russian city of St Petersburg.

Organisers are calling on UK Prime Minister David Cameron to tell Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “to drop the law.”

It is hoped the protest will increase pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to insist that Russia gives cast-iron assurances that LGBT competitors, spectators and members of the Russian public – and their straight allies – will not be victimised for supporting LGBT equality during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Earlier this month hundreds of people, including Stephen Fry, rallied opposite the gates of Downing Street in a show of solidarity with Russia’s LGBT community.

QX magazine editor Cliff Joannou said: “In June this year, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed into law legislation that effectively bans any positive discussion, debate or portrayal of LGBT people and relationships. Gay athletes and spectators attending the Winter Olympics could potentially face fines and/or jail sentences merely for coming out or affirming their support for LGBT equality.

“The International Olympic Committee Charter prohibits any form of discrimination. It cannot carry on as if no human rights abuses are happening in Russia and as if these abuses will not impact on the Winter Olympics.

“There have been protests in countries across the globe over the past few weeks against Putin’s legislation, including in London on 10th August. It was the huge response to this event that gave me the idea that what was needed was for LGBT communities around the world to come together on one day with a single voice against Russia’s anti-gay policies and to demand that their own governments take action to press for an end to Russia’s anti-gay law.

“This is particularly relevant and urgent, given that Russia currently holds the presidency of the G20 and will be hosting the G20 summit on 5th and 6th September.”

He added: “With this Day of Action we are calling on people in Britain and around the world to join us in a unified, coordinated global protest. We are not asking for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be cancelled, but Russia’s homophobic discrimination needs to end and we need action by the IOC to help make sure this happens.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal authoritarian regime like Putin’s Russia. The attack on the LGBT community is one fragment of a much wider attack on human rights. It is important to encourage an alliance between LGBT and straight Russians to defend freedom of expression for all the people of Russia. LGBT people need allies to win and all Russians who love democracy and human rights deserve our support.”