from Gay Star News
The UK is to give extra funding for gay rights campaigners in Russia.
Culture Secretary and Equalities Minister Maria Miller said it was important to use the opportunity of the Winter Olympic Games to underline the importance of treating people fairly.
The Conservative politician, who was responsible for gay marriage legislation in England and Wales, will be flying to Sochi as part of Britain’s official delegation to the Games. ‘As a result of the changes in the laws in Russia, there are considerable strains on gay rights,’ she told the BBC. ‘We are already putting in place additional support to make sure that gay rights organizations have got the sort of support and expertise that I think can make a real difference with the work they are doing on the ground in Russia.’
Due to Russian legal restrictions, foreign governments cannot directly fund action groups and protestors on the ground. Instead they must channel support through international NGOs. So, they will be boosting their funding to UK charities like Stonewall.
Miller said she hoped the International Olympic Committee would take a ‘common sense’ approach to any athletes who used the spotlight of the Sochi Games to raise the issue of gay rights.
It follows New Zealand’s parliament unanimously passing a motion, put forward by the Green Party’s Jan Logie, to support the LGBTI community in Russia. The member parliament moved to ask the New Zealand Government to urge other governments and the Winter Olympics Organizing Committee to ‘protect the rights of all people in Russia regardless of their sexual orientation’.
Earlier this week, IOC president Thomas Bach said there would be freedom for Olympians to make political points in press conferences, although anyone who protests on the podium or in official venues may be punished.