UK Equalities Minister due to attend Sochi Winter Olympics

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

PinkNews has learnt Equalities Minister Helen Grant is highly likely to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi and that there is a strong possibility her boss, Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller, may also attend.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) houses the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

As Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Mrs Miller is the most senior member of the DCMS, but she is also the most senior member of the GEO.

Mrs Grant is the second most senior minister responsible for Sport at the DCMS after Mrs Miller and she is also a junior Equalities minister at the GEO.

PinkNews understands that government aides are currently looking at potential dates for Mrs Miller to visit Team GB in Sochi during the Games in February.

A spokesperson said to “We can’t confirm attendance at this stage and we are finalising plans in the new year”.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama named two gay sports stars as part of America’s delegation to the Winter Olympics in Russia – but in a significant move confirmed that he will not be attending the event himself.

Meanwhile, former UK Foreign minister Denis MacShane called on Prime Minister David Cameron to personally boycott the Olympics in protest at President Vladimir Putin’s “rank homophobia”.

On Monday, French President Francois Hollande said he would not be attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

German President Joachim Gauck also said he was not going to the Games on 8 December.

However, both President Hollande and President Gauck failed to state their official reasons for not attending.

Last week, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding announced on her official Twitter account that she would “certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation.”

Last Thursday, President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s anti-gay laws by saying they protect against the “destruction of traditional values”.

A federal bill banning gay “propaganda” was signed into law by President Putin in June.

It prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.