UK: Cabinet Equalites Minister Maria Miller will attend Russia’s Winter Olympics

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Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, will attend next month’s Winter Olympics in Russia, the government has confirmed.

Today, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which houses the Government Equalities Office (GEO), told that Mrs Miller “is intending to go to Sochi alongside the British Olympic Association to support Team GB.”

Last month, PinkNews revealed that Sports Minister Helen Grant also plans to attend the Winter Olympics – although Prime Minister David Cameron will not.

Downing Street denied it was because of Russia’s decision to implement anti-gay laws. A source said: “The PM believes in engagement. He doesn’t think that boycotts and grand gestures achieve much.”

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.

In a TV interview last weekend Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain will continue urging Russia to protect LGBT rights and suggested that openly gay sports stars could be included in the UK’s Olympic delegation.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office later played down the remarks about the delegation.

In December, US President Barack Obama named several gay sports stars as part of America’s delegation to the Winter Olympics in Russia – but confirmed that he will not be attending the event himself.

For the first time since 2000, the US will also not send a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Winter Olympics.

Several days before, French President Francois Hollande announced he would not be attending the Games.

German President Joachim Gauck also said he was not going to Sochi.

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

Someone who did state her reasons for not attending was EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. She 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.”

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