Human Rights First Friday urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to press 2022 Winter Olympic Games contender Kazakhstan to protect the human rights of all of its citizens in accordance with the Olympic Charter. The call came in a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach that asked him to press Kazakh President Nursultan Nazabayev to veto a homophobic propaganda bill that was passed by Kazakhstan’s legislature and now awaits his signature to become law.
“The situation in Kazakhstan is already precarious for members of the LGBT community…We are concerned that a new law that further marginalizes and criminalizes the LGBT community will make things significantly worse. It is out of step with the spirit of the Olympics and its fundamental principle of ‘plac[ing] sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind,’” wrote Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We urge you to take action immediately to reach out to President Nazabayev and urge him to refrain from signing this bill into law and to stand for the human rights of all of the citizens of Kazakhstan.”
Kazakhstan’s propaganda bill “on protection of children from information harmful to their health and development” introduces a ban on the promotion of “non-traditional sexual orientations.” While it is similar in nature to the Russian propaganda law, the Kazakh bill equates so-called gay propaganda with a number of items deemed threatening to children including messages depicting cruelty and violence, provoking children to life-threatening acts, and any erotic or pornographic materials.
Human Rights First believes that the passage of this bill would violate Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter that was recently updated by the International Olympic Committee to explicitly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Last year, the IOC voted to include the non-discrimination clause in the host-city contracts, requiring host cities to agree that they will not discriminate against people in accordance with Principle 6.
“The IOC took a number of significant steps last year to build a culture of safety and respect around the Olympic Games. We hope that the IOC will now reinforce its commitment to human rights for all by acting decisively to use their leverage in Kazakhstan,” noted Gaylord.