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UK Foreign Office says British PM to raise anti-gay laws with Putin at G20 summit

Barack Obama will reportedly meet with Russian LGBT activists

British Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: wikimedia.org

British Prime Minister David Cameron will reportedly raise Russia’s anti-gay laws with President Vladimir Putin during this week’s G20 conference in St Petersburg, Pink News reports.

According to the report, Conservative Party MP Margot James tweeted that the Foreign Office had confirmed that Cameron intended to raise the issue at the conference, following a query from Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert in the House of Commons Sept 3.

James tweeted, “Europe Minister confirms that PM will raise anti gay discriminatory legislation and attacks on gay people with President Putin at the G20.”

In response, Gilbert said, “As Western Europe finally moves toward full legal equality for LGBT people, the direction of travel in Russia is more than worrying. It’s vital that Britain continues to press President Putin on this issue at the G20, and I welcome the assurance that ministers have given me today.

“I want to see our government take a firm stance on this issue and to make it clear to the Russians that this law is unacceptable. We must condemn those involved in the alarming increase in harassment and violence against gay and lesbian people, and we expect the Russian authorities to properly hold these people to account for this disgraceful behaviour.”

American President Barack Obama, who cancelled a bilateral meeting with Putin in the midst of worsening relations between the US and Russia, is reportedly going to meet with Russian activists, including from the queer community, during the G20 summit, BuzzFeed reports. The report names human rights activists Lev Ponomarev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, legal aid NGO director Pavel Chikov, and Coming Out, a queer St Petersburg-based organization. 

Both BuzzFeed and Pink News say American officials have either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for a statement.

UK gay rights activist Peter Tatchell says he welcomes Cameron’s intention to raise the globally condemned anti-gay laws but wants the legislation to be addressed as part of the G20 agenda.

Tatchell, a co-organizer of the London leg of a Sept 3 global protest against the anti-gay laws, says “the most effective reproach” would be for G20 leaders to “pledge their joint commitment to LGBT rights.”

About 32 cities worldwide are staging rallies under the Global Speak Out co-organized by the activist group AllOut.

Participants are being urged to wear red.

A new website was also recently launched as a conduit for users to press world leaders to act on Russia’s anti-gay laws and abuses.

Out4Russia was created by the group Out4Marriage, which developed the LobbyALord campaign used to lobby members of the House of Lords ahead of the royal assent of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act for England and Wales.

“It is important that LGBT people stand up for human rights both in their own country and internationally. Our new website allows anyone from around the world to add their support to the campaign,” campaign director James-J Walsh says in a Pink News report.