August 18, 2016 at 2:33 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Rio wrap-up: gay athletes medal amid outing scandal
Summer Olympics, gay news, Washington Blade

Amini Fonua, a gay swimmer from Tonga, is among those who blasted the Daily Beast for its stunt outing gay athletes in Rio. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Six of the openly LGBT and intersex athletes who are competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have medaled as of Wednesday.

Rafaela Silva of Brazil won her country’s first gold medal on Aug. 8 when she won the women’s 57-kg judo competition. Carl Hester and Spencer Wilton are members of the British dressage team that won a silver medal four days later.

British diver Tom Daley, who is engaged to Dustin Lance Black, won a bronze medal in the 10-meter synchronized event. Jen Kish is a member of the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team that won a bronze medal.

“Today was a great day,” said Kish in a tweet in which she also acknowledged her father.

Rachele Bruni came out on Aug. 15 after she won the silver medal in the women’s 10km swimming marathon. The Italian distance swimmer dedicated it to her girlfriend, Diletta Faina.

Brazilian rugby player Isadora Cerullo’s girlfriend, Marjorie Enya, proposed to her on Aug. 8 after the country’s final match at Rio de Janeiro’s Deodoro Stadium. Tom Bosworth, a British race walker, proposed to his boyfriend, Harry Dineley, on the beach on Aug. 15.

“He said yes,” said Bosworth in a tweet that included a picture of him proposing to Dineley.

Bosworth proposed to Dineley four days after the Daily Beast published an article that outed Olympic athletes, many of whom come from countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

Amini Fonua, an openly gay swimmer from Tonga, is among those who blasted the Daily Beast and Nico Hines, the website’s London-based editor who used Grindr and other hookup apps to look for gay athletes.

The Daily Beast subsequently removed Hines’ article from its website and issued an apology. The International Olympic Committee told Outsports.com, an LGBT sports website, earlier this week that Hines had left Rio de Janeiro.

“We understand the organization concerned recalled the journalist after complaints and withdrew the story,” an IOC spokesperson told the website. “This kind of reporting is simply unacceptable.”

The games are taking place against the backdrop of rampant anti-LGBT violence in Brazil.

Grupo Gay da Bahia, an advocacy group in the northeastern part of the country, notes that 326 LGBT Brazilians were reported killed in 2014. The organization said in June that an LGBT person is killed in Brazil every 27 hours.

President Dilma Rousseff remains suspended after the Brazilian Senate in May voted to impeach her in May. Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, the Brazil project manager of Micro Rainbow International, a European Union-funded organization that seeks to fight poverty among LGBT Brazilians, and K.K. Verdade, executive director of the Rio de Janeiro-based ELAS Brazilian Women’s Fund, both told the Blade earlier this month that the country’s economic crisis and concerns over Zika could overshadow the games.

Toni Reis, executive director of Grupo Dignidade, a Brazilian advocacy group, told the Blade in an email that LGBT people from South America’s most populous country have been part of the Olympics.

He noted that Laerte, a trans cartoonist, carried the Olympic flame in São Paulo. Reis also told the Blade that a trans sex worker is one of the games’ volunteer leaders.

“This year’s edition of the Olympic games looks like [it will be] one of the most ‘out’ ever for LGBT people,” said Reis. “We are optimistic that this will bring benefits in terms of more respect for LGBT people in Brazil.”

The LGBT Sports Committee of Brazil, Trans Revolucão and a number of other Brazilian advocacy groups are operating Pride House Rio during the games.

Pride House Rio features sporting matches, cultural activities, workshops on human rights, performances and other events that will take place through the Olympics. Jeferson Sousa, vice president of external affairs of the LGBT Sports Committee of Brazil, told the Blade that Pride House Rio seeks to “promote LGBTQI visibility” and ensure “a welcoming space” during the games.

Brazilian advocacy groups operated Pride House Rio during the games. (Photo courtesy Jeferson Sousa of LGBT Sports Committee of Brazil)

Brazilian advocacy groups operated Pride House Rio during the games. (Photo courtesy Jeferson Sousa of LGBT Sports Committee of Brazil)

“We hope that during the games the world can have a different look at the issues that permeate the LGBTQI (community) regarding their rights, participation, respect for freedom of expression and community, security, health, education, among other (things,)” he said. “The goal of the Olympic games is to also bring together peoples, cultures and dilemmas so we can join forces and promote a more equal world.”

IOC: Olympics ‘should be open to all’

The games are taking place roughly two and a half years after the 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Sochi, Russia.

The Kremlin’s LGBT rights record — which includes a 2013 law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors — overshadowed the games. The IOC subsequently amended the Olympic Charter’s nondiscrimination clause to include sexual orientation and added an anti-discrimination provision to its host city contract.

“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,” an IOC spokesperson told the Blade earlier this month in response to a question about anti-LGBT violence in Brazil. “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 and will be the case in Rio,” added the spokesperson.

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

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