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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 27 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 26
Commonwealth Games must not discriminate - Glasgow2014 urged to secure pledges from competing nations
Section One
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Commonwealth Games must not discriminate - Glasgow2014 urged to secure pledges from competing nations

by Peter Tatchell - Special to the SGN

Organisers of next month's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, are being urged to secure pledges of non-discrimination from participating countries.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation has written to the Chief Executive of Glasgow2014, David Grevemberg.

'We are asking Glasgow2014 to require competing nations to sign a pledge of non-discrimination in their team selection, in accordance with Article 7 of the constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation - but with expanded grounds of non-discrimination such as ethnicity, caste, sexual orientation, and gender identity,' said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

'This would be a very significant, high-impact equality initiative. It has never been done before and would make Glasgow2014 unique, trailblazing, and rightly deserving of public acclaim.

'While all participating countries agree to accept the Commonwealth Games constitution, which includes Article 7, this is a mere formality. They have never been specifically asked to agree to non-discrimination.'

Prejudice, discrimination, and legal victimization are prevalent in many Commonwealth countries, which may prevent affected athletes securing access to top class sports facilities and training camps - and inhibit their selection for the Commonwealth Games.

Currently, 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member countries have laws that criminalize homosexuality. Seven of these have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In parts of two Commonwealth countries, Nigeria and Pakistan, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people can face execution under Sharia law.

'These countries have such high levels of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for an openly LGBT athlete to be selected by their country to compete in the Commonwealth Games. Prejudice would almost certainly preclude their selection - and preclude their access to international level training facilities within their home countries.

'While Glasgow2014 cannot be held responsible for the anti-gay laws of 80 percent of Commonwealth member states, it does have a responsibility to ensure that there is no discrimination by participating nations in the selection of their national teams.'

The issue of discrimination in team selection is not confined to LGBT competitors. In some Commonwealth countries there are serious problems of prejudice and discrimination based on ethnicity, caste, gender, and disability, resulting in possibly diminishing access to top class sports facilities and training camps.

'While we congratulate Glasgow2014 on its commitment to not discriminate, we believe you also have a duty to ensure that competing nations give an undertaking of non-discrimination in their team selection.

'The Commonwealth Games should foster a culture of equality where athletes compete solely on the basis of merit.

'Making Article 7 a reality requires an active pledge by all the participating national teams.

'We hope Glasgow 2014 will accept our proposal to further enhance its existing commitment to equality,' said Mr Tatchell.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation seeks to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally, in accordance with established national and international human rights law.

Courtesy of the Peter Tatchell Foundation - www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org

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