Protesters called on Olympics bosses to enforce its charter on discrimination and end homophobia in sport.
Yesterday (22 July), renowned gay rights activist Peter Tatchell led the demonstration outside the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London, which is hosting the International Olympic Committee for the duration of the 2012 games.
‘The IOC should disqualify from the Olympics countries that discriminate against athletes on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion/belief, sexual orientation or gender identity,’ Tatchell said.
‘The Olympic charter prohibits discrimination in sport but it is not being enforced by the IOC.’
In an open letter to London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and IOC president Jacques Rogge he urged them to stand up for LGBT rights, singling out participating countries which he claims clearly ‘violate the Olympic spirit of equality’ as stated in its charter, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and India.
Tatchell claims in over 150 countries LGBT athletes are forced to hide their sexuality in order to get chosen by their national selectors.
‘The government of Saudi Arabia restricts women’s participation in sport and requires women athletes to be accompanied by male guardians,’ Tatchell said.
‘Iran has gender segregation in sport and forces women athletes to entirely cover their bodies, even if they do not wish to do so.
‘In 150-plus countries, gay athletes have to hide their sexuality to get selected for the Olympics and are at risk of imprisonment and even execution.’
He added: ‘The IOC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games have a duty to uphold the Olympic Charter’s commitment to equality for all in sport. They are failing to do so.’
Tatchell will lead another protest tonight at 6.30pm at London’s Royal Opera House, where the opening ceremony for the IOC’s 124th session will take place.