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IOC’s new pro-LGBT policies called ‘a bunch of fluff’

Advocates skeptical after Kazakhstan, Beijing compete to host Olympics



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Olympic, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Sochi, Winter Olympics, Dupont Circle, gay news, LGBT, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Advocates remain largely skeptical of the International Olympic Committee’s efforts to strengthen its anti-discrimination provisions in the wake of the controversial 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in Russia against the backdrop of the country’s anti-LGBT rights record.

The IOC in December 2014 amended the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination clause known as Principle 6 to include sexual orientation. The organization, which is based in the Swiss city of Lausanne, a couple of months earlier added an anti-discrimination clause to its host city contract.

Human rights advocates sharply criticized the IOC’s decision late last month to award the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing. The Kazakh city of Almaty was a finalist to host the games, despite the fact that lawmakers in the former Soviet republic in February approved a bill that would ban the promotion of so-called gay propaganda.

Beijing won the games by a 44-40 vote margin.

“These policies are a bunch of fluff,” said Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of, an LGBT sports website, as he discussed the IOC’s expanded anti-discrimination provisions. “What matters is the cities they choose to be the hosts and the discriminatory countries that are allowed to participate. The Olympics just selected a country not just with huge LGBT issues, but human rights violations that are massive.”

“They almost picked a country that’s even worse,” he added.

A Russian-style bill that sought to ban the promotion of so-called propaganda to minors received final approval in the Kazakh Parliament shortly after IOC members visited the country in February. The Kazakhstan Constitutional Council in May struck down the measure, but a lawmaker has said he plans to reintroduce it.

A report that Human Rights Watch released a week before the IOC awarded the 2022 Winter Olympic games to Beijing notes the Kazakh propaganda bill “would have directly contravened” Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.

“The IOC shouldn’t take its eye off the ball on ugly discrimination and human rights abuses for Olympic host contenders,” said Kyle Knight, a Human Rights Watch researcher who wrote the report, in a press release that announced it. “The IOC and the Kazakhstan government should publicly condemn anti-LGBT discrimination to signal that there is no place for homophobia in global sport or the countries that want to host Olympic games.”

Zhanar Sekerbayeva of the Kazakhstan Feminist Initiative earlier this month during a Skype interview from Amsterdam described the release of the Human Rights Watch report as a “very significant” moment.

Retired tennis player Martina Navratilova and other prominent sports figures in May expressed their opposition to Kazakhstan’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in a letter they wrote to IOC President Thomas Bach. Sekerbayeva noted Almaty-based advocates in an open letter to the IOC noted the former Soviet republic has what she described to the Blade as “a very bad homophobic situation.”

“We just tried to warn people in the committee that it may be a second Sochi,” Sekerbayeva told the Blade, referring to Kazakhstan’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. “Of course we didn’t want this.”

Chinese advocates with whom the Blade spoke were reluctant to discuss whether the Beijing games would have any impact on pro-LGBT efforts in their country.

“I have no idea about how the Winter Olympics will do anything to improve the overall human rights record,” said Xin “Iron” Ying, executive director of the Beijing LGBT Center. “We have never heard government officials talk about LGBT rights in China.”

“Maybe it will change in the next 10 years,” she added.

Another Chinese advocate said questions about whether the 2022 Winter Olympics would have a positive impact on the country’s LGBT rights movement “were too sensitive.”

Principle 6 to be applied in Beijing

Olympics, gay news, Washington Blade

Zhanar Sekerbayeva of the Kazakhstan Feminist Initiative at EuroPride in Riga, Latvia, in June (Photo courtesy of Zhanar Sekerbayeva)

Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2013 signed a broadly worded law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors.

LGBT rights advocates in the U.S. and elsewhere urged athletes to boycott the Sochi games over the controversial law, but Putin insisted that gays and lesbians attending the Olympics would not face discrimination. Bach said he had received repeated assurances from the Kremlin that LGBT athletes and spectators would be welcome in Russia.

Authorities in Moscow and St. Petersburg arrested more than a dozen people who protested the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record on the same day the games opened in Sochi. Russian police arrested Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former Italian parliamentarian, twice in the Black Sea resort city after she publicly challenged the gay propaganda law during the Olympics.

Sekerbayeva noted to the Blade that the Kazakh government in its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics insisted that LGBT people did not face discrimination or harassment from the police in the former Soviet republic. She said people blamed LGBT rights advocates for the IOC’s decision to award the games to Beijing and not Almaty.

“We see how our society decided to blame us,” said Sekerbayeva.

Mark Adams, a spokesperson for the IOC, told the Blade in a statement that organizers of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing have pledged that “for all games-related matters and for all participants, the Olympic Charter, including respect of Principle 6, will be fully applied.”

“The IOC is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation as stated in the Olympic Charter,” said Adams. “The games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and, of course, athletes. This has been upheld at all editions of the Olympic games.”

Maria von Känel, general manager of the Swiss Rainbow Families Association, told the Blade the decision to amend Principle 6 and add an anti-discrimination clause to the Olympics host city contracts shows that members of the IOC listened to LGBT rights advocates’ concerns in the wake of the Sochi games.

“It’s something powerful,” she said during a Skype interview from Zurich. “It’s visible, but I think it’s a start. Now we have to implement it.”

Sekerbayeva, like von Känel, welcomes the inclusion of sexual orientation in Principle 6. She nevertheless questioned why the IOC waited until after the Sochi games to amend the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination clause.

“I always wondered why we should wait for something very bad (to happen) and then we decide to have some decision,” said Sekerbayeva. “We did not want Sochi to go and have the Olympic games, but it did and we saw a lot of bad things, a lot of hate speech.”

“It’s better to (make these decisions) before such big events,” she added.

Zeigler made a similar point, noting Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics despite China’s human rights record.

“Forget about LGBT rights, they don’t care about human rights,” he told the Blade, referring to the IOC. “It’s irrelevant. They have a lengthy record to demonstrate that.”

Olympics, gay news, Washington Blade

Zhanar Sekerbayeva of the Kazakhstan Feminist Initiative, left, and two LGBT rights advocates from Kyrgyzstan take part in EuroPride in Riga, Latvia, in June (Photo courtesy of Zhanar Sekerbayeva of the Kazakhstan Feminist Initiative)

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Vulgar anti-gay slur halts championship final soccer match

The league has written rules and guidelines that call for the referees on the field to halt game play if fans ignore warnings



DENVER, CO. – The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, (CONCACAF) league’s final match in the Mile-High City Sunday was halted after fans disrupted the game play by shouting a homophobic chant directed at players on the field.

ESPN reported the pause occurred during the final moments of the second half before the game went to extra time in the U.S. men’s national team’s 3-2 win. Referee John Pitti resumed the match after three minutes as players on both sides pleaded with the crowd to stop using the chant.

The league has written rules and guidelines that call for the referees on the field to halt game play if a warning to the spectators by the announcer over the stadium’s public address has already warned the crowd to cease and desist. Should the crowd not stop, then the referee has the authority to send the players to the locker rooms and can also call for the match to be abandoned.

ESPN also reported that this was the second tournament match to be halted due to anti-gay chants at Empower Field at Mile High. Mexico’s semifinal win over Costa Rica was also briefly paused. That match also saw several fans ejected from the stadium.

Outsports Webzine reported this past Spring that the disgraceful “puto” chant —a vulgar slur for male prostitute — is ubiquitous at Mexican soccer matches, and up until recently, Soccer’s governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA, has been ambivalent towards its eradication. The organization has punished Mexico at least 12 times for the chant since 2015, and yet, it hasn’t disappeared.

In March, FIFA opened an investigation into anti-gay chanting by Mexico supporters during an Olympic qualifier against the Dominican Republic ESPN noted.

WATCH: USA Beats Mexico FULL MATCH [CONCACAF Nations League Final] | from CBS Sports. Game play is halted at the 1 hour thirty seven minute mark on the YouTube video:

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Niners kick-off Pride with NFL’s 1st-ever gender-neutral gear

The team hopes to score another win for its diverse fanbase Thursday with a new retail line that isn’t limited by binary gender styles



49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF

SANTA CLARA, CA. – The San Francisco 49ers have announced month-long plans for the organization’s annual celebration of June LGBTQ+ Pride month. Led by 49ers PRIDE, the official fan club of 49ers Faithful who identify as LGBTQ+ and allies, the 2021 celebration will be highlighted by the 2021 49ers PRIDE Collection.

Every fan can feel seen

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF

The San Francisco 49ers call their new retail line of rainbow-logo’d tops, tees and jackets “genderless.” We think you’ll call them cool- two years after the San Francisco 49ers led the NFL with the first official community for LGBTQ fans and allies, back in May 2019, the team hopes to score another win for its diverse fanbase Thursday with a new retail line that isn’t limited by binary gender styles.

The new array of team-branded and Pride-themed clothing is the league’s first and only “genderless” collection, according to a news release from the Niners. The threads are by Fanatics and the team promises 100% of the proceeds from this collection will benefit the San Francisco LGBT Center, the Oakland LGBT Center and The LGBTQ Youth Space: San Jose.

49ers Pride49ers Pride

“Supporting the LGBTQ+ community in sports is a priority for the 49ers organization because sport has not always been inviting,” the 49ers’ Hannah Gordon told the Los Angeles Blade. Gordon is entering her tenth season with the 49ers and third as chief administrative officer and general counsel.

49ers Pride49ers Pride

“We created 49ers PRIDE to make space for all of our LGBTQ+ fans and allies and it quickly became an incredible community. This year, we designed the first genderless retail line by an NFL team because we don’t want there to be 49ers fan who wants gear but doesn’t feel seen. If you want to support the Niners, we have something for you.”

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF

There will still be items available that fans who prefer a feminine cut can purchase at the team’s online store, but the 2021 Pride collection is specifically geared toward Niners fans who aren’t interested in reinforcing gender stereotypes when they support their team and fly their Pride colors.

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF

“With this line, we have pieces that were designed so that however you identify, you can find a fit and any two people can express different styles with the same piece,” said Gordon. “I love seeing how our fans wear these pieces and express their style. Doing it your own way is faithful to the Bay.”

49ers Pride (Photo Credit: SF

Click here to view the collection and find out more about 49ers Pride.

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Pro rugby player comes out

Devin Ibañez played with New England Free Jacks pre-pandemic



Devin Ibanez, gay news, Washington Blade

Major League Rugby player Devin Ibañez came out as a gay man on his social media platforms on Tuesday. Sharing pictures of embracing and kissing his partner Fergus Wade, the former New England Free Jacks athlete stated, “as of now I am the only openly gay rugby player to earn a contract with an MLR side. I hope that I will meet others like myself playing a high level of rugby and hoping to inspire the next generation of proud LGBTQ rugby players. So I will proudly call myself ‘that gay rugger’ in hopes that one day it won’t sound strange in men’s rugby”

Ibañez shares on his new Instagram account @thatgayrugger, “as 2020 comes to a close I took the time to reflect on my life and what aspects I could control and make positive changes to that would impact my day to day life and happiness.”

He continues, “I want to start 2021 by celebrating the love of my life and my partner @ferguswade who has been with me through the highs and the (very) lows of the last three years.”

Fergus Wade and Devin Ibanez (Photo via Instagram @thatgayrugger)
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