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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 12, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 50
IOC forbids anti-Gay discrimination
Section One
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IOC forbids anti-Gay discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The IOC (International Olympic Committee), the governing body of the Olympics, adopted a 40-point reform package on December 8. The reforms were introduced by IOC President Thomas Bach, and were adopted unanimously.

Among the new measures was the addition of 'sexual orientation' to the IOC's non-discrimination policy.

The amended Principle 6 clause says that the Olympics should be free of discrimination 'of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.'

Although the IOC did not comment on the new language, the addition of protections for Gay and Lesbian athletes was seen as a response to controversy generated by anti-Gay laws in Russia, host of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. At least 14 pro-Gay demonstrators were reportedly arrested during the games.

Former Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis said the new wording removes all doubt about the interpretation of the clause.

'Today's move will make it clear about open hearts and open minds in the spirit of the Olympic Games,' he said.

Some LGBT rights activists hoped the new language would prevent countries with a history of human rights violations from being selected to host future Olympics.

'Today is a great step forward for the Olympics, and particularly for the athletes, spectators, and residents of host countries who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual,' said Human Rights First Advocacy Counsel Shawn Gaylord.

'Our hope is that potential host countries, like Kazakhstan and China, will understand that protecting the rights of sexual minorities is no longer something they can dodge. We call on the IOC to continue its efforts to support equality by including gender identity in Principle 6 as well.'

Human Rights First, formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, is a U.S.-based human rights organization.

The IOC has faced criticism in the past for picking countries with poor human rights records to host Olympic Games. Amnesty International criticized the group for choosing China to host the 2008 Summer Olympics because of that country's sometimes violent suppression of traditional Tibetan culture.

Bach, a German, became IOC President in 2013 and promised reform of the organization.

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