September 25, 2014 at 1:34 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
IOC adds anti-discrimination clause to host city contract
Russia, Vladimir Putin, Sochi, Winter Olympics, Dupont Circle, gay news, LGBT, Washington Blade

The International Olympic Committee has added a non-discrimination clause to host city contract after the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record overshadowed the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The International Olympic Committee has announced the addition of an anti-discrimination clause to its host city contract.

“The city and the NOC (National Olympic Committees) 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,” reads the clause of which the IOC sent a copy to the Washington Blade.

IOC spokesperson Emmanuelle Moreau told the Blade on Thursday the anti-discrimination clause is based on Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. She said it was included in the contract it sent to Beijing and the Norwegian and Kazakh capitals that are vying to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

All Out and Athlete Ally applauded the new language, even though it does not explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

“This is a significant step in ensuring the protection of both citizens and athletes around the world and sends a clear message to future host cities that human rights violations, including those against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated,” said Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, in a statement.

“By adopting a non-discrimination clause into its host city contracts, the IOC is showcasing its own realization that we must protect the rights of every athlete to live free and openly,” added Athlete Ally Executive Director Hudson Taylor.

The announcement comes after worldwide outrage over Russia’s LGBT rights record — including a 2013 law banning so-called gay propaganda to minors — that overshadowed the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in February.

Kazakh lawmakers are currently considering a bill that is similar to Russia’s gay propaganda law. A politician in the former Soviet republic recently called for blood tests to identify gay people.

Advocates repeatedly criticized the IOC for not allowing athletes who competed in Sochi to publicly challenge Russia’s gay propaganda law during the games. They also dismissed the Kremlin’s repeated assurances to the IOC that LGBT athletes and spectators would be welcome to attend the Olympics.

All Out last summer submitted more than 300,000 petitions to the IOC that urged it to add sexual orientation to Principle 6.

Banks on Thursday pointed out that IOC President Thomas Bach last October explicitly said the Olympic Charter’s non-discrimination clause includes LGBT people.

“Of course, with any regulation or policy there’s no guarantee it will be enforced according to the letter or intent of rule,” said Banks. “We see All Out’s role as fighting for these rules to exist and then continuing to advocate for them to be fully enforced and expanded.”

Taylor in a statement reiterated this point.

“The Principle 6 campaign sought to shed light on the responsibility of host countries to uphold the Olympic values, and this action validates all of the hard work by organizations and individuals across the world who’ve engaged in the fight for LGBT equality,” he said. “Though there’s work to be done, this is a major step in the right direction.”

The Blade will have further reaction to the IOC’s announcement when it becomes available.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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