Skip to main content

Sochi Winter Olympics

Volume 574: debated on Thursday 30 January 2014

Along with the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport—my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant), who is sports Minister—I shall be attending the winter Olympics in Sochi to support our Team GB athletes. The sports Minister and the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), who is Minister for disabled people, will also attend the Paralympics to support our Paralympic GB athletes.

Given the attitude of the Russian Government, what have our Government been doing ahead of the winter Olympics to support the LGBT community, many of whom remain deeply worried about their status in Russia?

I share my right hon. Friend’s concern about the protection of human rights for LGBT people in Russia. I have raised the issue personally both with Ministers and with non-governmental organisations, as have my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. Over the coming months, Stonewall will be developing a programme of activities which it will seek to deliver to human rights defenders in Russia, to help them to support LGBT people in the country. Stonewall’s work is being made possible by support from our coalition Government.

Charming as the Secretary of State and the sports Minister are—[Interruption.] I did not mean to be patronising; I meant to be rude, actually. Charming as they are, would it not make far more sense to take a leaf out of President Obama’s book, and to include John Amaechi, Nicola Adams, Tom Daley, Gareth Thomas and Clare Balding in the delegation, in order to make the point that those who know what it is to enjoy the freedom to live your life as you want in this country have something to offer the rest of the world in Russia?

The hon. Gentleman will know that it is very important that Team GB see that the British Government are behind them every step of the way. I make no apology for the fact that the Minister for sport and I are going to the winter Olympics. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will join me in saying that the team have our very best wishes.