Hundreds attend a protest in London against anti-gay laws in Russia. (Angela Clerkin)
Hundreds attend a protest in London against anti-gay laws in Russia (Angela Clerkin)

Hundreds of people gathered in London on Saturday to protest against the treatment of LGBT people in Russia.

It is believed to be the largest gay rights protest in the UK capital in recent years.

"Stephen Fry walked along the whole length of the protest like an ambassador, and everyone was cheering him," said an eyewitness.

Stephen Fry attended the London protest and called for athletes at the 014 Sochi Winter Olympics to protest against homophobia. (Angela Clerkin)
Stephen Fry called for athletes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to protest against homophobia (Angela Clerkin)

The writer and broadcaster stopped by a group who were supporting LGBT rights in Uganda to talk to TV cameras.

Fry has called on athletes competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia to cross their arms across their chests at the Games to protest at the anti-gay laws.

The broadcaster accepted that it was unlikely that the Games would be boycotted or moved from Russia, but hoped athlete protests would show solidarity with campaigners and "take the sweetness of victory out of Putin's mouth", he told the BBC.

Anti-Putin sentiments ran high at the London protest. (Angela Clerkin)
Anti-Putin sentiment ran high at the London protest (Angela Clerkin)

A Russian law, passed in June, prescribes heavy fines for anyone providing information about homosexuality to people under 18 - but Moscow denies it is discriminatory.

Demonstrators are calling for the government to put pressure on Russia to repeal the laws.

Critics of the anti-propaganda law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

The law, as well as a ban on the adoption of children by same-sex couples, are part of a more conservative course taken by President Vladimir Putin on social issues since his return to the Kremlin in May 2012.

Line dancers limber up against anti-gay rights. (Angela Clerkin)
Line dancers limber up against anti-gay rights (Angela Clerkin)

"Putin is the 'Czar of Homophobia'," veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wrote on his website ahead of the protests.

"His regime has outlawed the public expression of LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) identity and affection - and prohibited the advocacy of LGBT human rights - in circumstances where a person under 18 might see it."

Protesters wielded banners bearing slogans such as "We are not Putin up with homophobic Olympics" and blow-up dolls superimposed with President Putin's face.

There was one scuffle with police as some protesters ran out into the streets to stop cars. Police moved in quickly to disperse them. Overall, there was a very low-key police presence in what was largely a peaceful protest.

LGBT demonstrators called for a change in Russia's policy that has attracted criticism from world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, gay bars in London and across the UK have called for a show of solidarity against Russia's anti-gay laws by boycotting Russian vodka.


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