Olympic Principle Six Ruling: Good News for LGB, Not T

Last week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to include sexual orientation in Principle Six of the Olympic Charter, the nondiscrimination clause. And thanks to another IOC vote earlier this year, host countries will also be required to comply with Principle Six.

During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law brought global attention to the discrimination experienced by LGBT people. Russia’s repressive law has spurred continued homophobia, including violent crimes. During the Olympic games, the Russian government rounded up hundreds of activists, including many LGBT activists protesting the law.

Since the games, Human Rights First and other groups have pressed the IOC to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination clause. Future host countries should not be allowed to get away with the blatant homophobia and discrimination exhibited in Russia.

Now, thanks to last week’s decision, 2022 winter games host contenders China and Kazakhstan will have to take note. China received harsh criticism on its human rights record during the 2008 Olympics. Kazakhstan has plans to introduce a Russia-inspired propaganda bill banning public expression related to homosexuality and to bar known LGBT people from holding public office or serving in the military. Both countries now know that their record on LGBT issues will factor into the IOC’s decision on their suitability as hosts.

While the revised IOC nondiscrimination clause is great news for gay, lesbian, and bisexual athletes, spectators, and host country residents, it fails to explicitly protect transgender individuals from discrimination. By not including gender identity in Principle Six, the IOC leaves the door open for host countries to continue to discriminate against transgender athletes, residents, and visitors.

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Published on December 18, 2014

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