Following the global LGBT rights controversy that overshadowed the lead-up to the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is taking steps to ensure future host cities and countries do not violate the organization’s non-discrimination policies.
The host city contract will now include a clause that requires local organizers to abide to the Olympic Charter’s sixth principle of Olympism prohibiting “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.”
Vancouver City Councillor Tim Stevenson calls it “big victory for the GLBTQ community throughout the world.” Accompanied by former VANOC official Maureen Douglas, he traveled to the Sochi Games representing the City and met with the IOC to lobby the organization to defend LGBT rights.
“It also is exactly what I discussed with the IOC’s President’s Chief of Staff, and the head of the IOC’s communications in the 90 minute meeting I had with them in Sochi in February,” Stevenson told Vancity Buzz.
“They promised this would be forthcoming and they delivered. I couldn’t be more pleased. I took them at their word at the time as I believed what they were telling me and they were true to their word.”
This is the full text of the IOC’s added clause in the host city contract:
“Whereas the city and the NOC [National Olympic Committee] acknowledge and accept the importance of the Games and the value of the Olympic image, and agree to conduct all activities in a manner which promotes and enhances the fundamental principles and values of Olympism, in particular the prohibition of any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise, as well as the development of the Olympic Movement.”
The host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics will be the first Olympic host required to sign the legal document that contains the clause. Currently, the three remaining bid candidates for the 2022 Games are Oslo, Beijing and Alamty (Kazakhstan). However, only the Norwegian candidate city is known for its progressive LGBT laws and attitudes.
In June 2013, the Russian parliament unanimously passed a bill banning all “gay propaganda,” with specific reference against disseminating gay materials to youth and placing fines to individuals, foreigners and media who violate the law.
It sparked global protests around the world, bringing much attention to the nation’s widespread anti-gay sentiments and reports of dramatically increased violence against LGBT individuals.
Local LGBT groups and the City of Vancouver were amongst the most vocal critics of the Sochi Olympics and Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Mayor Gregor Robertson issued an open letter to Russian authorities condemning the anti-gay crackdown and acknowledging Vancouver for being the first Olympic host to create a Pride House – a resource centre and safe space for LGBT athletes and visitors.
During Stevenson’s meeting with the IOC in Sochi, he also asked the organization to add a sexual orientation non-discrimination clause into the Olympic Charter.
“Now the next move will be to include ‘sexual orientation’ in Charter 6. Look forward to that in the future but in the meantime this [host city contract clause] is a huge step forward,” said Stevenson.
“No longer will any country be able to host the Olympics if they discriminate against the GLBTQ community as Russia did in the Sochi games. I believe our Vancouver ‘team’ contributed in some measure in bringing about these changes.”
Feature Image: Olympic rings via Shutterstock