Human Rights First Urges the U.S. Olympic Delegation to Support Equality at the Closing Ceremony

Washington, D.C. – In advance of the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord issued the following letter to the United States Olympic Delegation:

“On Sunday, the world’s eyes will be on Russia for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Games, and we urge you to reflect publicly not only on the achievement of the athletes, but also what happened off-camera in Russia during the Olympics. It is a dire situation for Russian human rights activists and the LGBT community.

Since the moment the torch was lit in Sochi, Russian authorities have arrested dozens of human rights defenders in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and in Sochi itself. The arrested have been brave, as have those who stay committed to their identity as members of Russia’s LGBT community, and they should be commended. The United States should  reinforce its objections to the prejudicial legislation that marginalizes Russia’s LGBT community and creates an ever more hostile environment for them to live in.

U.S. public support is necessary if the core Olympic principles of equality and dignity are to be realized. We also believe that what you say during these ceremonies will provide much needed protection for activists that will last long after the international spotlight has left Russia.

Urge the IOC to make a formal commitment to LGBT equality. Beyond Sochi, the U.S. should continue to call on the USOC and IOC to update Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to include discrimination with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity as being incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Further, the IOC’s selection process should be amended to include a provision against discrimination. Full support of the Olympic Charter and adherence to the spirit of the Games should not be an option but a prerequisite for host countries.”


Published on February 21, 2014


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