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Human Rights Campaigners to Stage Olympics Protest

Human Rights Campaigners to Stage Olympics Protest


Sunday will see LGBT rights supporters stage a protest in London over Olympic officials allowing states to compete that have anti-LGBT laws.

“The IOC should disqualify from the Olympics countries that discriminate against athletes on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion/belief, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Olympic Charter prohibits discrimination in sport but it is not being enforced by the IOC,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, in a press release.

“The IOC and LOCOG have a duty to uphold the Olympic Charter’s commitment to equality for all in sport. They are failing to do so,” he added.

With this protest, Mr Tatchell is specifically calling on the IOC to enforce the nondiscrimination provisions in the Olympic Charter and “require all competing nations to sign a pledge that they do not discriminate in sport on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion/belief, sexual orientation or gender identity,” saying, “If they refuse to sign, they should be denied participation in the games.”

Mr Tatchell also wants Olympic officials to ensure participating countries “make a public statement that LGBT athletes are welcome at London 2012 and that participating nations must not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In a letter sent to the IOC and LOCOG, Tatchell’s foundation also points out:

Despite this laudable commitment, many nations deny equal opportunities to women athletes and to those from ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. They violate the Olympic spirit of equality. This discrimination takes the form of a lack of equal access to sports facilities, competitions and the Olympic selection process.

Some examples include:

The government of Saudi Arabia provides almost no sports facilities for women. It has selected only two token women athletes to compete in the London Olympics – and neither woman actually lives in Saudi Arabia.

Iran practices systematic discrimination against its Kurdish, Arab and Baluch citizens. It holds gender segregated sports competitions and forces female competitors to cover themselves head-to-toe, even if they do not want to. Women athletes are forbidden to have male coaches or to participate in sports that involve physical contact with male sports officials.


In over 150 countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes are forced to hide their sexuality in order to get selected and compete; otherwise they would be rejected and possibly face imprisonment. In the absence of laws against homophobic discrimination, victimisation and bias against LGBT athletes is endemic in most competing nations.

The Peter Tatchell foundation says such state-backed discrimination should not be rewarded by allowing participation in the games.

Sports authorities have long struggled with the issue of participating countries’ internal politics and the desire to hold successful tournaments, often falling back on the idea that such events are about sport and not politics.

However, critics argue that when countries actively and openly persecute their citizens contrary to international human rights standards, any and every engagement with them is a political act and that to try and sidestep such wrongdoing is to lack the courage of one’s convictions.


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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Arun District.

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9:07PM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

As a gay man, I hate to say, I don't agree with this action. It would serve the gay community better for those countries that do allow gays to compete to be open about it. A few more gold medal gay Olympians might help to open the eyes of other countries. Let's face it, the USA doesn't really have the best track record when it comes to LGBT rights. So as an American gay man, I say bring on the games, if you are gay let them know and take the gold.

3:32AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

I fully agree
I also have of an issue however with women who are not allowed to compete due to naturally high levels of testosterone.

2:40AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012


1:42AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

I would have loved to have a good word to write here and I hate to be negative but after the Chinese Olympics were held, I think in full attendance, I don't expect there to be any change here and now...

10:41PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

In an ideal world this would not be an issue... I feel the solution lies in discovering as many avenues as possible of righting long held erroneous opinions, beliefs, and laws that abusively use some form of fear to oppress and control others.

2:55PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

Good for Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation and I heartily agree with the critics "That when countries actively and openly persecute their citizens contrary to international human rights standards, any and every engagement with them is a political act and that to try and sidestep such wrongdoing is to lack the courage of one’s convictions. The Olympics are not just about sports and hasn't been since Germany's 1936 Summer Olympics under the dictatorship of Hitler. Thanks Steve for the article.

12:56PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

I agree with Maribeth and others, that if carried out to the extent of reductio ad absurdem, NObody would be eligible for the Olympics! Certainly not Germany under Hitler, where Black U.S. runner Jesse Owens won Gold....... While Jews, Gays, Radicals, suffered and Women were being driven back into the kitchen and into serving as brood mares for the Third Reich!!!

Actually, the whole Olympics thing is a scam and utterly corrupt, it is economically DEVASTATING for the city and country it takes place in, not an asset -- look at Greece, and Athens! It's WONDERFUL it's not taking place in an American city...... and then there's the drugging, the silly "events" added that are showy and meaningless, the commercialization..... one could go on forever.
It was a GREAT IDEA in its origins ...... both in Ancient Greece {no warfare during the Olympic Games!}, and in its modern incarnation.
But I don't know if it's possible to SAVE the Olympics. I just don't know. Too many billionaires manipulating it for THEIR purposes......

12:37PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

As a gay man I disagree with this action.

11:14AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

The whole of the Olympic's production needs reviewing. It has become a show as much as ever athletics, it costs too much so inappropriate sponsors are used eg DOW, BP, that don't care about people we know that as they do not pay compensation when due to people so what exactly has them want to sponsor the Olympics - the whole theatre is forgotten the week after so why?? The security required in the world's present instability for these large venues is a reason to reduce the overall. ..... Why is it the World Championships athletics can happen without all this palava?

11:00AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

Fair enough - make your point.

But, as we know, if we only had a games which involved countries that ticked all the right boxes then it would be a very small games indeed.

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