House of Commons Speaker John Bercow to visit LGBT Russians during official trip

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The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has promised to visit LGBT people during a trip to Russia later this year.

Speaking at a ParliOut event hosted by Clifford Chance in the House of Commons, Mr Bercow commended moves towards equality in the UK, but noted moves backwards in countries such as Uganda and Russia.

On the UK, he said: “In fewer than 50 years we have moved from the criminalisation of a type of love to the imminent prospect of complete, legal equality, and that is something I think we should champion.

“Culturally, as opposed to legally, there is still much to do.”

Going on, Mr Bercow criticised Uganda for its newly-introduced Anti-Homosexuality Act.

He said: “There is a sense in which the cause of LGBT equality has actually regressed around the world over the last year to 18-months. We have witnessed these horrific decisions being made in Uganda, spewing forth from elected politicians the most bilious, vile rhetoric against people simply on grounds of who they are.”

He continued to say that, during a visit to Russia later in 2014, he planned to visit LGBT people, and give talks on LGBT equality.

“Even closer to home, in Russia, there is a huge battle to be waged on behalf of LGBT people. I am due to go to a Speakers’ Conference later on this year in Russia, and I shall almost certainly go, but I will go only on the very clear understanding that I’m going to meet LGBT groups when I’m there, or speak at a university on the theme of LGBT equality, or both.

“This is a battle which needs to be fought, and call me old fashioned or eccentric, but I’ve always felt that just as it isn’t only black and Asian people who should speak up for the rights of black and Asian people, just as it isn’t disabled people who should speak up for the rights of disabled people, just because it isn’t only women who should speak up for the cause of gender equality, so it isn’t only LGBT people who should speak up for the cause of LGBT equality.”

President Yoweri Museveni signed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in front of politicians and reporters on Monday at State House, his official residence in Entebbe.

The law calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last June signed into law a bill which bans the promotion of non-specific sexual relations.