Theresa May says UK will defend LGBT rights in wake of Vladimir Putin remarks

Posted On: 
28th June 2019

Theresa May has hit back at Vladimir Putin after he claimed that western liberal values were now "obsolete" and took a swipe at LGBT rights.

A grim-faced Theresa May with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit.
PA Images

The Prime Minister held face-to-face talks with the Russian president at the G20 summit in Japan - the first time the pair had met since the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury.

In an interview ahead of the meeting, President Putin said the political ideology which has underpinned western democracies for decades had "outlived its purpose".

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He said liberalism conflicted with "the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population" as he hit out at mass immigration and LGBT rights.

"This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done, that migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected," he said.

The Russian leader said his country had "no problems with LGBT persons… but some things do appear excessive to us".

"They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles," he said.

"Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population."

But a spokeswoman for Mrs May said: "The Prime Minister said the UK would continue to unequivocally defend liberal democracy and protect the human rights and equality of all groups, including LGBT people."

Downing Street said the PM had also told President Putin "there cannot be a normalisation of our bilateral relationship until Russia stops the irresponsible and destabilising activity that threatens the UK and its allies, including hostile interventions in other countries, disinformation and cyber attacks which undermine Russia’s standing in the world".

The spokeswoman added: "The Prime Minister said the use of a deadly nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury formed part of a wider pattern of unacceptable behaviour and was a truly despicable act that led to the death of a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess.

“She was clear that the UK has irrefutable evidence that Russia was behind the attack, based on painstaking investigations and co-operation with our allies. She said that this behaviour could never be repeated and that the UK wants to see the two individuals responsible brought to justice."


Meanwhile, Tory leadership contenders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt also hit out at President Putin's remarks.

Speaking at a hustings in Exeter, Mr Johnson said: "All this stuff that Putin comes up with about liberalism is over- he's wrong he's totally wrong.

"Our values, freedom, democracy, rule of law, free speech, those things are imperishable and they will succeed. And I believe that so strongly that I thought it must be obvious to the Russians and in the end it wasn't."

Mr Hunt said: "Well it’s possible to rebuild relations, if Russia changes its behaviour but last year Russia used chemical weapons on British soil in Salisbury, leading to the death of a British citizen. 

"And my worry about Russia is they’re up to their old tricks."