No mountain high enough for gay rights campaigner

Keith Tomlinson climbing Kilimanjaro in 2011

Keith Tomlinson climbing Kilimanjaro in 2011

First published in News by

A GAY-rights campaigner is aiming to fly the rainbow flag from the highest mountain in Europe – which is in Russia.

Keith Tomlinson, 29, of Evelyn Terrace, Brighton, is planning to climb to the 5,642 metre summit of Mount Elbrus in the western Caucasus mountain range to raise awareness for equality.

Gay rights has become a hugely divisive issue in Russia but Mr Tomlinson does not believe he will encounter problems when he arrives there.

Mr Tomlinson said: “I think every gay person has properly experienced discrimination to a different degree.

“I was brought up in a very straight environment where the word ‘gay’ was used as an insult. So when I knew I was gay, I saw it as a bad thing and not normal.”

Last year, Russia implemented a law banning the promotion of homosexuality, while providing information on homosexuality to anyone under the age of 18 is a criminal offence.

This led to protests across the globe two days before the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. “But I’m sure it will be fine when I visit,” Mr Tomlinson said.

Mountain climbing is a big part of his life as his first climb – Kilimanjaro in 2011 – gave him the courage to come out two days later.

He said: “It took me a long time to respect myself and realise that being gay is as normal as being straight and it does motivate me to show people we are strong too.”

To prepare for the climb, Mr Tomlinson has completed two marathons and three half marathons. He runs about 25 miles each week and feels that he is in good shape for the challenge.

He has played down the dangers of the climb to his family and boyfriend, but about 15 to 30 people die climbing Mount Elbrus every year “As long as I’m fit and well I will keep climbing. My main goal will be to climb Everest in the future.

“It would be cool to fly the rainbow from the highest mountain in the world.”

Mr Tomlinson will be raising funds for Stonewall, a charity that campaigns and lobbies for the rights of LGBT people.

He will fly out to Russia on August 9 for his climb.

Comments (6)

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6:07pm Tue 15 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

"Gay rights has become a hugely divisive issue in Russia but Mr Tomlinson does not believe he will encounter problems when he arrives there. "

He won't.

Being a gay adult in Russia isn't an offence.

The problems might occur when he descends should he place the flag there.

I'm sure we all wish him a successful climb and a safe return to England at a time of his choosing.
"Gay rights has become a hugely divisive issue in Russia but Mr Tomlinson does not believe he will encounter problems when he arrives there. " He won't. Being a gay adult in Russia isn't an offence. The problems might occur when he descends should he place the flag there. I'm sure we all wish him a successful climb and a safe return to England at a time of his choosing. stevo!!
  • Score: 0

9:02pm Tue 15 Jul 14

NathanAdler says...

Oooooohhhh get him!
Oooooohhhh get him! NathanAdler
  • Score: 5

2:58am Wed 16 Jul 14

Zeta Function says...

Climb every mountain!

Swim every ocean!
Climb every mountain! Swim every ocean! Zeta Function
  • Score: 1

7:31am Wed 16 Jul 14

maxiboy_ says...

What right do you have to push your agenda on other nations and people? I might just tip off the Russian embassy.
What right do you have to push your agenda on other nations and people? I might just tip off the Russian embassy. maxiboy_
  • Score: 0

8:31am Wed 16 Jul 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

You we to do it very day maxi boy so why can't this chap. I've also told the Russians about you. They are looking for some Gulag guards. Right up your street bossing people about with a big stick.
You we to do it very day maxi boy so why can't this chap. I've also told the Russians about you. They are looking for some Gulag guards. Right up your street bossing people about with a big stick. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 2

11:38am Wed 16 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

maxiboy_ wrote:
What right do you have to push your agenda on other nations and people? I might just tip off the Russian embassy.
As if this stint will achieve anything, lol. If anything, it will increase Russia's determination.

Let him have his fun....he's not hurting you
[quote][p][bold]maxiboy_[/bold] wrote: What right do you have to push your agenda on other nations and people? I might just tip off the Russian embassy.[/p][/quote]As if this stint will achieve anything, lol. If anything, it will increase Russia's determination. Let him have his fun....he's not hurting you stevo!!
  • Score: 1

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