IOC Urged to Take Additional Steps to Ensure Equality at the Olympic Games
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has introduced a new anti-discrimination clause into its host city contract, but noted that this step alone will not play a meaningful role in preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people throughout the Olympic Games. The organization urged the IOC to take further steps to ensure equality is an indisputable part of all future Olympic Games by updating Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to include discrimination with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“While making anti-discrimination a more explicit part of the site selection process is important, the fundamental problem of discrimination at the Olympics remains the same,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord who was part of the organization’s delegation to the Sochi Olympics. “As long as Principle 6 does not explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity in the list of categories against which discrimination is prohibited, countries that have no tradition of protecting LGBT people or, worse yet, no interest in doing so, will not understand their responsibilities any differently tomorrow than they did yesterday. The international community must continue to press the IOC to make a formal change to include sexual orientation and gender identity in Principle 6.”
During the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russian authorities arrested dozens of LGBT activists, allies, and journalists in an attempt to silence voices of dissent. Following the conclusion of the games, Human Rights First worked with nineteen members of the House of Representatives and a broad-based coalition of human rights organizations to urge the IOC to mandate equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, at future Olympic Games.
The new non-discrimination clause in the host-city contract will require host cities to agree that they will not discriminate against people in accordance with Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, which bans discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.” As Principle 6 is currently written, it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity explicitly in the list of categories that cannot be discriminated against.
Today’s news comes as the parliament of Kazakhstan, a contender for the 2022 Olympic Games, plans to introduce a draft bill banning public expression related to homosexuality inspired by the infamous Russian propaganda bill and to pass amendments to the country’s Marriage and Family code barring known homosexuals from holding public office or serving in the military. Additionally, several Kazakh members of parliament are calling for DNA blood tests to identify LGBT Kazakhs.
“It is hard to believe that Kazakhstan will feel compelled to prevent discrimination against LGBT people under the current vague non-discrimination language,” added Gaylord.
Human Rights First urges the IOC to further its commitment to the ideals of human rights and the fellowship of sport by updating Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter when the committee meets this December in Monaco.