THE BLOG

Sochi Shows Us That LGBT Issues Still Have A Long Way To Go

14/02/2014 12:14 GMT | Updated 14/04/2014 10:59 BST

The world will get there on LGBT issues, but as the Sochi Winter Olympics have proven, the world still has a long way to go.

If you've ever read any of my previous blogs on my own site, you will know that I am a firm believer in equality and that people should be judged on their character, rather than their sexuality, gender or the colour of their skin. Judging people by who they choose to love and who they choose to share their lives with is even more perplexing to me and, I'm sure, to many of those reading this too. In light of the law passed in Russia to stop gay people from teaching children in schools, I have been seriously thinking about the issue of being gay in today's society. It still isn't easy, despite the fact that we are in an age where we are more accepting and celebratory of the diversity of our planet.

Of course, LGBT rights have reached milestones in the UK. In fourteen years, we have gone from having the greatest number of homophobic laws on the statute books to have some of the world's best pro-LGBT laws. Legally, those in the LGBT bracket are equal, but this is only the starting point towards a society where LGBT people have equal dignity and are treated as equals in society.

I could sit here all day and happily make a list of improvements but, the very first thing that needs to be changed is attitude. The first step is to acknowledge that human rights should come before beliefs, be they religious or not, and that the fundamental rights of people as a whole are absolutely non-negotiable. Basic human rights do not depend on a majority vote. Human rights are human rights, irrespective of an individual's sexual orientation or gender, because an individual's right to pursue happiness without interference is something that they are entitled to, and is something that should be protected. As a form of love, homosexuality deserves respect. There is a indisputable basic human right to be gay and LGBT people should be encouraged in their self-identity and relationships. Frankly, we should be promoting compulsory, unbiased and inclusive, sex and relationship education in schools to address homophobic thinking from the off. School is one place where prejudices can be most effectively extinguished, and we should be using this to our advantage.

For us in Britain, we have since moved away from the criminalisation of homosexuality, to accepting LGBT people as being able to express their love in marriage, as many same sex couples have taken for granted for such a long time. Naturally, it is a time for us in Britain to celebrate.

However, there are many places in the world, such as Russia, where basic human and equality rights are not advancing at such a rate, which is disappointing. In the year 2014, it baffles me that this is still an issue. The introduction of banning the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships to minors in Russia has made it pretty much illegal to place same-sex relationships on the same level as heterosexual ones. I would even go as far to say that this federal law makes it virtually illegal to promote LGBT rights.

Personally, the situation in Russia absolutely infuriates me. It infuriates me that those in power in Russia are clearly shallow minded and feel justified to judge and seek out others based on their life choices and, more importantly, who they really are. It especially annoys me because, back here in Britain, some of the kindest, happiest and most humble people I have the privilege of knowing are in the LGBT bracket, and I feel that they, (as am I, as a person in the LGBT bracket) are being attacked.

Russia should be putting the rights of its people before those of beliefs. They should base their policies on reason, evidence and fairness, and not their personal thoughts and beliefs about same sex relationships.

We cannot allow Sochi and the winter Olympics to become a mechanism for the Russian authorities to wipe clean its poor human rights record. It is essential that we from across the globe show support during and after the games to help the Russian LGBT community to fight this legislation. We as equals on this planet, cannot sit back whilst human rights are violated and the LGBT community as a whole is attacked.

Ultimately, it is not only the moral thing to do; it is the right thing to do in support of the basic human rights that we should all live by, and for our equals in the LGBT community the world over.