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US Olympic Committee adds gay protections to policy in protest against anti-gay Russian laws

Protection for sexual orientation added despite the USOC not campaigning against Russian laws
US Olympic Committee adds protections for sexual orientation to its policy.
US Olympic Committee

The United States Olympic Committee has added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.

The addition to protect sexual minorities, which was passed on Thursday, is a response to upcoming Winter Olympics host Russia, where a string of anti-gay laws have recently been passed.

Speaking at the annual address to the USOC Assembly on Friday, CEO Scott Blackmun stressed that despite not campaigning against the new homophobic laws, they do not support them.

He said: 'The fact that we do not think it is our role to advocate for a change in the Russian law does not mean that we support the law, and we do not.'

Blackmun has also expressed concern on how the recent laws may affect American athletes attending the games.

He said: 'I think everybody has concerns over the uncertainty about where the line will be drawn... How do we protect the athletes? We strongly believe the athletes need to be free to be themselves.

'That doesn't necessarily need to include dialogue about changing the laws but it clearly includes allowing people to live the lifestyle they live here when they're there.'

Chairman Larry Probst has also endorsed a change in the overall Olympic policy to protect sexual orientation, which is currently not included.

Speaking on the issue, Probst said: 'We thought it would be good to take a look at our own code of conduct... It was the appropriate thing for us to do. It's important to us to walk the talk.'

The upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi have caused controversy due to the rise in homophobic laws and violence in the former Soviet state.

Public figures worldwide have called for a boycott of the games, including British broadcaster Stephen Fry and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

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