Published: 16:00, 27 October 2017
| Updated: 16:16, 27 October 2017
A Kent MP has apologised to the LGBT+ community for appearing on a state-funded TV station dubbed “Vladimir Putin’s propaganda channel”.
Labour’s Rosie Duffield, who represents Canterbury and Whitstable, declared this week that she was paid £500 to be interviewed on James’s Delaney’s News Thing, a weekly show produced by Russia Today UK.
Her appearance came amid a deteriorating climate for LGBT+ citizens in Russia, which has passed legislation banning the promotion of gay lifestyles.
Russia Today is owned by TV-Novosti - a Kremlin-controlled broadcasting conglomerate - and often accused of promoting Mr Putin’s views in the West.
Right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes has published a letter about Ms Duffield’s Russia Today appearance on his website, said to have been written by a member of Canterbury’s LGBT+ community, John Gusman.
"Canterbury is a proud, diverse and tolerant community where everyone should feel free to be who they want to be. In short, it’s everything Russia Today isn’t..." - John Gusman
In it Mr Gusman applauds Ms Duffield’s support for Canterbury Gay Pride but condemns her for appearing on a station which is “nothing more than a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin’s regime”, demanding an immediate apology.
He writes: "Canterbury is a proud, diverse and tolerant community where everyone should feel free to be who they want to be. In short, it’s everything Russia Today isn’t."
Neither KentOnline nor its sister paper, the Kentish Gazette in Canterbury, have received any direct complaints about the MP’s appearance on Russia Today in July.
But in a statement released this afternoon, she apologised for any offence her appearance had caused.
“I have been fully committed to the championing of LGBTQ+ rights my entire political life,” she added.
“I am proud of my friendships and fellowships with all members of my community and would be more than happy to apologise, in person, at my constituency offices to any offended parties.
“My appearance in no way constitutes support for Russia’s appalling record on LGBTQ+ rights.”
Earlier this month Conservative foreign secretary Boris Johnson called it a “scandal” that Labour MPs were appearing on Russia Today.
Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, he said: “If you consider the state of the press in Russia at present, it is a scandal that members of the party opposite are continuing to validate and legitimate that kind of propaganda by going on those programs.”
But he was left red-faced after it was revealed his own father had appeared on the station, along with a number of Tory MPs.