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Olympic bosses 'all talk and no action' on gay rights

Activist Peter Tatchell slams IOC for 'ignoring' his calls for countries to sign equality pledge or face a ban from the games
Dr Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC
Photo by Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution)

Olympics bosses have been slammed as ‘all talk and no action’ after ‘ignoring’ calls to ban countries which discriminate against LGBT people in sport from taking part in the games.

In a response to Gay Star News, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) claimed ‘any unsporting behavior’ would be a ‘serious breach’ of the event’s charter.

The Olympic charter states that any discrimination is 'incompatible' with the Olympic spirit and an IOC spokesman told GSN that ‘every athlete/official agrees to abide by the principles of the charter when competing at the games’.

But gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who has spearheaded a campaign to force all nations to sign a pledge supporting equal rights or be disqualified from the sporting event, blasted the IOC response for failing to act on his calls.

'The IOC is making the right noises but doing nothing serious to challenge homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination by nations competing at London 2012. It is all talk and no action,’ Tatchell told GSN.

'I have asked the IOC to do two simple things to enforce the Olympic Charter. It has done neither. This reply ignores two reasonable proposals, which would help ensure that competing countries do not discriminate.’

The 60-year-old campaigner wrote an open letter to London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and IOC president Jacques Rogge urging them to stand up for LGBT rights, singling out participating countries which he claims clearly 'violate the Olympic spirit of equality', including Saudi Arabia, Iran and India.

He said: 'We need equality assurances from Jacques Rogge, not a lower ranking official.

'The fact is that in over 150 countries LGBT athletes are forced to hide their sexuality in order to get chosen by their national selectors.

'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 cases, be at risk of imprisonment.’

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

The IOC spokesman added: ‘The Olympic games and the Olympic movement are universal and non-discriminatory, in line with the Olympic charter and our values. National Olympic Committees are encouraged to uphold that spirit in their delegations.

‘The IOC is an open organisation and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the games.’

The opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games will be held on 27 July.
 

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