Britain will not be boycotting the Sochi Winter Olympics, but will aim to tackle anti-gay prejudice at the event itself, David Cameron has said, after a high-profile plea from Stephen Fry.
In a blog posted on The Huffington Post UK, Fry had called for the Games to be moved. Cameron said he shared the "deep concern" about the abuse of gay people in Russia.
But writing on Twitter the Prime Minister said:
1/2 Thank you for your note @stephenfry. I share your deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia...— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 10, 2013
2/2 @stephenfry However, I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics. DC— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 10, 2013
Fry had urged the Prime Minister to support moves to strip Russia of the 2014 Winter Olympics over concerns about anti-gay laws passed in the country. Protests are organised for this weekend, including in the UK, to call for a boycott.
The broadcaster, writing in an open letter to Cameron and the International Olympic Committee , compared the situation to the decision to hold the 1936 games in Nazi Germany and said President Vladimir Putin "is making scapegoats of gay people".
He continued: "An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.
"I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do. Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement, which I remind you of verbatim below."
Fry said the Prime Minister was "a man for whom I have the utmost respect".
He added: "As the leader of a party I have for almost all of my life opposed and instinctively disliked, you showed a determined, passionate and clearly honest commitment to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights and helped pushed gay marriage through both houses of our parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition from so many of your own side.
"For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us. In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now."
It comes after politicians in Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, passed a law imposing heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.
Boycott calls against the Sochi Games have been gathering steam, with gay activists being urged to boycott Russian vodkas, leading to a panicked plea from vodka manufacturer Stolichnaya - which said in an open letter that it was a champion of gay rights.
The IOC said that it had received confirmation from Russian officials that anti-LGBT legislation “will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
“The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games," the organising body said in a statement.