The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has held a ‘Diversity Day’ today (6 March) to back it’s social credentials.
LOCOG bosses were joined for the day by Britain’s equality minister, Lynne Featherstone MP, and members of the LOCOG diversity board, including gay former-NBA star John Amaechi.
Featherstone said: ‘With the eyes of the world on the UK as we host the Olympic Games this summer it’s more important than ever that we ensure sport is open and welcoming to participants and spectators alike.
‘I applaud LOCOG for their work to ensure the games are as diverse and inclusive as possible. They were one of the first bodies to sign the government’s Sport Charter to tackle abuse and discrimination in sport, particularly that faced by LGB&T people, when it launched last year. The message is the London 2012 Games are for everyone to enjoy.’
Stephen Frost, a former public affairs director for Stonewall, Britain’s leading lesbian, gay and bisexual campaign group is now head of diversity and inclusion at LOCOG.
He told Gay Star News: ‘We’ve deliberately targeted the LGBTI community through outreach in three key areas: Sport; Workforce and Volunteers; and Business.
‘We’re committed to ensuring that there are no barriers to LGBTI people participating in all aspects of the London Olympics – this needs to be business as usual for us.’
Janice Lawton from London was one person for whom sexuality was no barrier when she jumped at the chance to volunteer during the games.
She told GSN: ‘I really wanted to be part of the Olympics. I love the Olympics, both summer and winter games, and did not want to miss this opportunity to be part of it. I’m looking forward to being an ambassador of London – putting on my uniform, doing my job and helping people along the way.’
LOCOG’s selection process for volunteers included detailed requirements for the disclosure of personal information, but this didn’t pose a problem for Lawton:
She said: ‘I did disclose my ethnicity, gender and sexuality in the monitoring section of the application form and felt quite comfortable with this. It is important to disclose this information as it helps with statistics and to see the true diversity of the volunteers.’
Frost said the Olympics presents a unique moment and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for London’s LGBTI community: ‘Everyone can be involved in the Olympics, there’s a million ways. The games represents a step-change for London and we need everyone to get behind it.’
However it is not clear if there will be any more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people actually competing in this year’s Olympics. At the last games, in Beijing in 2008, statistics suggest only 0.1% of sportsmen and women were openly lesbian and gay.
The diversity day particularly highlighted the organizers efforts to involve black and minority ethnic communities and to bring in disabled people and ensure good disabled access to Olympic facilities and to other facilities in London which will be used during the games, including public transport.