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'Ban anti-gay countries from Olympics' urges Tatchell

Activist Peter Tatchell calls on nations to sign 'equality pledge' for LGBT rights or be disqualified from London 2012
Olympic stadium in London

Olympic chiefs are being urged to ban countries which have anti-gay policies from competing in the games.

With just two weeks to go before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, UK, leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell is calling on participating countries which are known to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to sign a pledge supporting equal rights or be disqualified from the sporting event.

Tatchell claims over 150 nations have anti-LGBT policies and their involvement in the games goes against the Olympic Charter which states that any discrimination is 'incompatible' with the Olympic spirit.

'Many nations discriminate against their sports people on the grounds of gender, race, religion and sexuality, in violation of the Olympic spirit of equality,' said Tatchell.

'This discrimination takes the form of a lack of equal access to sporting facilities, competitions and the Olympic selection process.
 
'It would be impossible for an openly gay athlete to be selected for the Olympic squad of most countries. They would face rejection because of their sexual orientation and, in many caes, imprisonment.'

Nearly 80 countries still criminalize homosexuality. Several have the death penalty.

Tatchell is appealing to Olympic chiefs, Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe, to 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.

The 60-year-old said: 'We need a signal from the top that homophobia and transphobia are contrary to the Olympic spirit and charter.'

'The Olympics should be open to everyone, based solely on merit and without discrimination,' he added.
 
'Sport should have no boundaries or exclusions. There should be a level-playing field for all competitors, regardless of their background.'

Gay Star News has contacted the International Olympic Committee and is awaiting a response.

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