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Decorated British Paralympian plans to go to Sochi to speak out against Russian laws

Lee Pearson says he's ready to be jailed for his stance

Gay British Paralympian Lee Pearson says he's willing to serve jail time for opposing Russia's anti-gay laws. Credit:

The winner of 10 Paralympic equestrian gold medals says that while Russia's anti-gay laws are an outrage, going to the Sochi Games is a much more powerful statement than staying away, the Daily Mail reports. 

Britain's Lee Pearson, who is gay, says he intends to be at the Winter Olympics to protest the legislation and, if necessary, spend time in jail for his stance.

"In some respects I hope I do because then the prime minister and my country would have to get involved and that would add to the embarrassment for Russia," the Mail quotes Pearson as saying.

Boycotting the Games is tantamout to "putting your head in the sand," he adds.

Like many others, Pearson is disappointed in the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to adopt a hands-off approach to Russia's anti-gay policies, saying there is "conflict with the Olympic charter."

Even as a number of former and current IOC officials have repeatedly said they are satisfied with the Russian government's assurances that athletes and spectators have nothing to fear during the Games, dozens of activists who turned out for a gay-rights rally in St Petersburg were thwarted by Orthodox Christians and members of nationalist organizations.

Pearson told the Mail that while he's "very proud" of his achievements in sport, the most important thing he'll ever do "is to make a stand and help educate Russia and the world about discrimination."