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House of Commons Hansard
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LGBT Rights (Russia)
21 January 2014
Volume 574
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5. What recent discussions he has had with his Russian counterpart on LGBT rights in that country. [902067]

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I discussed the issue with Foreign Minister Lavrov at the UN General Assembly in September. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport raised concerns about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights with Deputy Prime Minister Golodets in December and the Prime Minister made clear the strength of feeling about the new law to President Putin in September.

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Will the Foreign Secretary commend and applaud the message of equality and diversity implicit in President Obama’s decision to include two gay athletes in the USA’s official delegation to the winter Olympics in Sochi?

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Yes, I absolutely commend that. The United Kingdom will continue to make our views very clear about this issue, in Russia too, with Russian leaders, and worldwide. I hope there will be better reflection in Russia over time on this issue.

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I welcome the Foreign Secretary’s words and the confirmation that the Government will continue to raise this at the highest level, but what will such conversations achieve? It is clear that despite the expressions of international concern, not just Russia but several Commonwealth countries too, are moving in the wrong direction on LGBT rights. Now that Russia and the UK are both back on the Human Rights Council, does he perhaps see that as a way of making sure that it is not just about words, but about action too?

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We must all hope so. We cannot control the decisions in other countries but we can make the arguments and make our point very clear, as I did in a speech at the Perth Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2011. We have raised these issues with the Nigerian Government and we fund actual projects as well. It is not just words from the United Kingdom. We have provided funding in Russia for the Side by Side film festival, we have funded a project to increase the capacity of LGBT civil society organisations in Russia, and FCO officials in Russia meet LGBT activists regularly. We do give meaningful support, as well as the words of all of us in this House.