Pride House banned. Russian gay athletes barred?
Open Letter to Thomas Bach urges IOC action
London, UK – 7 February 2014
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, has been urged to insist that Russian authorities lift their ban on a LGBT Pride House at the Sochi Winter Olympics, and require the Russians to give assurances that gay athletes have not been denied selection for the country’s Olympic team.
The call comes in an Open Letter from the London-based human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF).
“We are raising two issues of homophobic discrimination that have not been acknowledged or remedied by the IOC. It very disturbing that the IOC has not sought to overturn the ban on Pride House, despite being urged to do so way back in 2012 when the Russians announced that it would not be permitted. I hope that even at this late stage the IOC will take action to uphold Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits discrimination,” said PTF Director, Peter Tatchell.
Copy of the letter to Thomas Bach, President of the IOC
International Olympic Committee
7 February 2014
Dear Thomas Bach,
Both yourself and the Russian authorities insist that there is no homophobic discrimination at the Winter Olympics.
Yet way back in 2012, the Russian government announced that it had banned the hosting of a Pride House at Sochi – a social meeting space for gay athletes and spectators – like the very successful Pride House we had at the London 2012 Olympics.
This ban is a clear violation of the anti-discrimination Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.
At the time, I called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure that the ban was reversed. Then and since, the IOC has said and done nothing. It has allowed the Russian government to ban Pride House.
This ban is homophobic discrimination and a violation of Principle 6. I urge the IOC to insist that it is lifted.
In addition, the current intensely anti-gay atmosphere in Russia, much of it orchestrated by President Putin’s government, means it would be very unlikely for an openly gay athlete to be selected for Russia’s Sochi Olympic squad.
I would like to know why the IOC has not required the Russian Olympic Committee to give a written undertaking that they have not, and would not, discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) athletes in the selection of their team for the Winter Olympics.
This strikes me as a reasonable request for the IOC to make of the Russian authorities, in order to ensure compliance with Principle 6.
I urge the IOC to seek this undertaking from the Russian Olympic Committee.
Please advise me at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your consideration of this submission.