UK Education Secretary challenges Russian minister on LGBT rights

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The UK’s Education Secretary has raised LGBT rights with her Russian counterpart.

Nicky Morgan, who is the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, met with Russian Education minister Dmitry Livanov today.

A source close to the minister told PinkNews that the Tory politician discussed Russia’s poor LGBT rights record and equality issues with Mr Livanov in a meeting during the Education World Forum.

She also raised education cooperation and the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature.

The meeting comes a day after Russia’s Parliament debated a bill that would make it an imprisonable offence for two men to kiss in public. The bill, tabled by an opposition party, was rejected by a committee.

As Education Secretary, Mrs Morgan has launched a push to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools – announcing a £2 million fund in 2014 to tackle the issue.

At the PinkNews Awards last year, Mrs Morgan pledged to advocate for global LGBT rights, saying: “We have to look beyond our own shores and continue to use our influence to help LGBT people around the world.

“We won’t do this by lecturing or pointing fingers, but by supporting activists and groups on the ground, helping them to learn the lessons from our journey towards equality under the law.”

“Though it might sound trite to say it, equality is a human right, which is why the Government Equality Office has produced £100,000 to those international projects.”

She said previously: “The tragic fact is that young people who suffer homophobic bullying often pull back from school life. Many, of course, may avoid school altogether.

“They may choose universities or colleges where they think they will be accepted.

“They tend to choose careers where they think they will be safe. One in three students say the change their educational plans because of homophobic bullying at school.

“Their life chances are completely screwed because of the fear that come with being who they are.

“We cannot underestimate the effect that homophobic bullying has on young people.”