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Gay Games boycott Sochi summit over safety fears

Federation of Gay Games refuse to put delegate in danger during Peace and Sport conference amid tide of homophobia in Russia
Federation of Gay Games refuse to put delegate in danger during Peace and Sport conference in Sochi amid tide of homophobia in Russia

The Federation of Gay Games will boycott a sports conference in Sochi, Russia, after organizers failed to ensure delegate's safety in the country.

The three-day Peace and Sport summit is due to kick off in the city on 31 October.

But in a letter to the organization's president, Joël Bouzou, the FGG said they are not willing to put their delegate at 'any risk' amid the growing tide of homophobia in Russia.

'We regret that the hosts of an event that seeks to promote understanding find themselves unable to ensure the personal integrity and the ability to speak openly of those they invite,' FGG co-presidents Kurt Dahl and Emy Ritt wrote.

'We see this situation as proof that the choice of Sochi in particular and Russia in general to host international sport events is a grave error that is contrary to the fundamental principles of sport for all.'

Sochi will host the Winter Olympic Games in 2014 and gay rights activists were outraged after Russian authorities banned a Pride House event for LGBT athletes and spectators.

The country has seen increasing intolerance and hostility toward the gay community, with anti-gay 'propaganda' laws passed in several cities including St Petersburg, pride marches banned in Moscow for 100 years and attacks on gay clubs in the capital.

Dahl and Ritt added that if they attend the conference they cannot 'remain silent about the raison d’être for our organization, the promotion of lesbian, gay, bi and trans sport, and the fight against homophobia in sport and sports institutions.

'And in particular the homophobic ban on a Pride House at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.'

The letter added: 'You will understand that we cannot ask our delegate to put herself in danger, and we will therefore not be attending this year’s conference, thus – alas — sparing your hosts in Sochi any criticism of their homophobia that prevents full participation in sport for all athletes.'

Peace and Sport usually hold conferences in its home base of Monaco, but decided this year's event should be held in Sochi.

The ninth Gay Games will be held in Cleveland, USA, in 2014.

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