A GAY-RIGHTS campaigner climbed the highest mountain in Europe to fly a rainbow flag from its peak.
Keith Tomlinson, 29, from Evelyn Terrace, Brighton, said he wanted to raise awareness of LGBT people in a mark of defiance of the Russian anti-gay laws.
When asked why he wanted to climb the 5,642m peak of Mt Elbrus in the western Caucasus mountain range, he said he “wanted to do something cheeky” while raising money for a LGBT equality charity.
He said: “I am gay and I don’t care about your silly laws, I am me”.
LGBT rights in Russia have been a contentious issue since new laws were brought in by Putin’s government in 2013.
Russian legislation bans the promotion of what is considered the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations. This piece of law has effectively made it illegal to be openly homosexual.
Mr Tomlinson said: “I hid the rainbow flag at the bottom of my sleeping bag just in case.”
He is raising money for Stonewall, an LGBT equality charity based in the UK but that is trying to bring about equality to LBGT people across the world.
Each year between 15 and 30 people die attempting to climb Mt Elbrus – and Mr Tomlinson’s ascent did not go hitch free.
At one point during the climb a member of the team slipped and fell, dragging the rest of the mountain expedition five metres before they could regain their footing.
On his seven and a half hour final ascent temperatures dropped to minus 20C and the wind reached speeds of up to 20mph.
Mr Tomlinson said: “It took us ten days to acclimatise to the altitude. The final ascent to the peak was a very long day.”
Mr Tomlinson’s first mountain climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in 2011 and he has indicated he is planning an expedition to the Himalayas in the future.
He completed his latest challenge last month but it is not too late to donate.
To donate Money to the charity Stonewall, that Mr Tomlinson climbed the mountain in aid of visit www.justgiving.com/rainbow summit.
You can also follow Mr Tomlinson’s accounts of the climb and further charitable efforts on twitter at @rainbowsumit1