Human Rights First Urges the International Olympic Committee to Mandate Equality at Future Olympic Games
Washington D.C. – Human Rights First, along with a broad-based coalition of human rights organizations, today urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make equality an indisputable part of all future Olympic Games. The call came in a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach following the conclusion of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, asking the IOC to amend the Olympic host city bid process to include a provision against discrimination, update Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to include discrimination with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, and include specific human rights commitments in future host city contracts.
“The worldwide wave of outrage spurred by Russia’s discriminatory anti-LGBT laws should be a warning – one that should not need ever to be repeated,” wrote Human Rights First. “Olympic hosts should be held to the high standards of the Olympic Charter. Countries with laws designed to discriminate against or attack the dignity or human rights of any individual or group are clearly inconsistent with the Olympic Charter and should not be given the honor and privilege of hosting the Olympic Games.”
Since the passage of the anti-“propaganda” law in 2013, Russian authorities have engaged in a crackdown against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community, contributing to a climate of fear and violence against them. During the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russian authorities arrested dozens of LGBT activists, allies, and journalists in an attempt to silence voices of dissent.
Additionally, legislators in neighboring countries seeking to emulate Russian lawmakers have slowly begun to introduce bills similar to Russia’s anti-“propaganda” laws. Human Rights First has issued a new factsheet detailing the spread of similar anti-gay laws in the surrounding region.
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to press Russian officials to end the systematic persecution of civil society, and refrain from passing further discriminatory laws.