Guest Blog: Julian Jarrett: Why Russia's anti-gay laws matter


My name is Julian Jarrett, I am reading Law with Politics at Manchester Uni. I am currently on a work experience at John Leech MP’s office. As part of this placement I am blogging about a topic i feel strongly about.

John recently won a "Lib Dem MP of the year award for his equality work, and has been campaigning for a pardon for Alan Turing. Next week he will be taking part in the Manchester Pride parade. He supported legislation to introduce same-sex marriage.

I have chosen to talk about the recent anti-gay legislation which has been enacted in Russia. Whilst we are taking the vital steps towards an equal future, gay people abroad still suffer the same injustices of our past.

The Russian law requires that there may be no under-18 exposed to ‘non-traditional relationships’. The effect this will have is to cover up and criminalise any depiction of homosexuality in public, whether it be in the media or schools or anywhere else, failure to do so resulting in large fines.

This has become such a big human rights issue because Russia are staging the winter Olympics in 2014. Gay campaigner and national treasure Stephen Fry mentioned the possibility of a boycott in protest. I strongly agree with Fry that there must be action in the face of such discrimination but I'm not sure that a boycott is the most effective course of action.

Firstly, we must think of the athletes, to take away their chance to compete in Winter Olympics  after years of training would be unfair. Their interests cannot be tossed aside as collateral damage.

Secondly, this is an opportunity to have a debate which clearly has not been properly concluded in Russia. The vast media coverage across the USA and UK condemning the legislation has engaged the Russian and hopefully has made them stop and think about the issue.

Thirdly and finally, other forms of protest could have just as much effect as a boycott. Some in the village are boycotting Russian Vodka. At the recent World Athletics Championships in Moscow one champion dedicated his medal to all his gay friends. Another idea which can be adopted here in  Manchester would be to ‘un-twin’, or suspend our twinning arrangement with  St Petersburg, to show Manchester’s absolute opposition to laws of this nature.

Perhaps we could adopt a rainbow coloured team GB kit!

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