The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved Proposal 14 of the Olympic Agenda 2020 to include non-discrimination with regard to sexual orientation in Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. This move is a major victory in promoting equality at the Olympic Games. The IOC voted on the proposal Monday as part of the 127th IOC Session taking place in Monaco.
“Today is a great step forward for the Olympics, and particularly for the athletes, spectators, and residents of host countries who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “Our hope is that potential host countries, like Kazakhstan and China, will understand that protecting the rights of sexual minorities is no longer something they can dodge. We call on the IOC to continue its efforts to support equality by including gender identity in Principle 6 as well.”
Earlier this 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. Monday’s move will ensure that sexual orientation is explicitly listed in Principle 6 in both the Olympic Charter and host city contracts, eliminating ambiguity as to its applicability to laws and policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
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 19 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. Additionally, Human Rights First issued a letter last week to American IOC member Anita DeFrantz, urging her to work to pass Proposal 14 and to add discrimination with regard to gender identity to Principle 6.
In response to the International Olympic Committee’s adoption of Proposal 14, openly-gay Olympian Greg Louganis said, “The true spirit of the Olympic movement is about inclusion, which I am sure the intent has always included sexual orientation and deserves to be inclusive without question of interpretation. Today’s move will make it clear about open hearts and open minds in the spirit of the Olympic Games.”
This week, Louganis will participate in the Human Rights Summit in Washington, D.C. on a panel titled “Not Just a Game: Can Sports be a Vehicle to Advance Human Rights?” at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 10 at the Newseum.