Jonathan Higbee's picture

Olympic Committee Confirms It Will Punish Athletes Who Support LGBT Rights In Russia

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed a fear that has overcome the LGBT and sports communities this month: a provision in the IOC charter that calls for the punishment of athletes who make political or religious displays will be enforced during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

When asked if the IOC planned to create a "safe space" of sorts for LGBT and allied athletes, journalists, contractors and other foreigners visiting Russia for the Olympics, officials told Gay Star News, "Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration."

While we're on the subject of rule 50 in the Olympic Charter (which states "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas"), the IOC has confirmed that it will indeed enforce it against displays of support for the LGBT community at the games in Sochi.

"This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary," the IOC told GSN. "In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done."

Gay Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup has already pledged, along with other athletes, to show Pride during the Opening Ceremonies by wearing a rainbow pin, a display that now may have him in trouble with Russian authorities and the Olympic Committee. 

Comments

Are they also going to force these rules vice-versa? What happens if LGBT members are targeted by russian police/citizens, then what? Not going to help/protect them? How are they supposed to know that they're safe? Does the IOC have any foresight whatsoever when it comes to preventing possible violence and anti-gay protests, or are they only concerned with $$ and their own political agenda? 

Political alignments are choices. Religious affiliations are choices. Sexual orientation is not a choice. That seems to me to make all the difference. As someone said earlier, we're talking about repression of human rights, not political or religious stances. Russia and the IOC are complicit in human rights violations if they threaten to punish LGBTQ athletes for being who they are. Furthermore, outward signs of affection differ from culture to culture. Same-sex holding hands and even kissing is common in some cultures and is completely unrelated to sexual orientation. Russia and the IOC have to expand their world view (i.e., get a clue) before making threats. In any case, we have to recognize that "big bucks" is the major player here. The IOC doesn't really give a damn about Russia's homophobia or the athletes themselves. The solution: always hold the Olympic Games in Greece. That's where they began, and Greece needs the revenue more than Russia or just about anyone else. (Yes, I know that's unrealistic; but the irony needs support.) Hold the Winter Games in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been legal for more than a decade.

For heaven's sake! Have you actually looked at what is happening in Greece at the moment. Undesirables (e.g. transsexuals) are being rounded up and put in internment camps. How is that less bad than what Russia is doing? I would definitely not support the idea of going to Greece for the Olympics right now.

As for Russia. well like everyone else, the clothes I choose to wear in some way represent me. If I choose to wear rainbow colours because they represent me, is that a political choice or a style choice. Who is to judge that? Style choices, cultural norms, religious freedoms - or political statements - it all depends on the standpoint of the observer much more than on the position of the person being observed.

Right on earthskimmer!!

In regards to Blake and other Athletes if he and others are wearing the London 2012 Pride Pin with the Olympic Rings the IOC will be hard press to take any action against them.  It was afterall "Official Olympic" merchandise.  

The IOC also claims to uphold Human Rights in sport, without discrimination. Simply by agreeing to obey by homophobic laws they are breaching the founding principles of their own damn charter.

These greedy people are hypocrites of the highest order, picking and choosing what they are going to do, to ensure they can go ahead with the games and make a few billion.

If the IOC wants to comply to the letter of their own statements and charter, they would demand that Russia change it's law, or move the Olympics to a nation which doesn't discriminate based on race, gender or sexual identity.

People really need to read the full IOC charter, they are breaching one of their own founding principles - as they have several times before.

Europe is sitting on Gazprom's gas pipe, that's why old bitch are quiet like fish...

IOC doesn't say anything about spectators not being allowed to wear rainbow-colored attire or supporting LGBT.  Come on people, there are calm, appropriate ways to make a stand!

Last time I looked Human Rights we not political, religious or racial propaganda.  It would seem to me that the OC is putting people and their Human Rights into jeopardy by having and event in a place where some folks Human Rights do not exist under current law.  Talk about attempting to blame the abused!O

The IOC Rep said: "Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration."

Well, in that case, Russia should not be allowed to host since attacks on gay rights are clearly a proactive political demonstration.

The Olympic Committee should not involve itself with sovereign state's politics. It only harms its own  universal principles..

I think IOC is right about their rule. Lgbt rights is a good cause but if they allowed it then they would have to allow other political and religious statements and the Olympics is not a place for that, however IOC needs to show more support for lgbt only bEcause they are discriminated against and need to be shown solidarity. If you win a gold medal you can't go celebrate with your lgbt spouse without being thrown in jail. PDA is counted as propaganda the lgbt there are being forced into the dark. IMO forget boycotts and wearing rainbow pins, they need to just move the Olympics and they need to start now to make it in time.

You can't expect the Olympics to be a forum for political activism. You can't expect to use the Olympics as leverage to influence and change other countries laws that is unrealistic, however you  can expect the Olympics to show solidarity against discrimination. Show solidarity by black listing countries that discriminate against their athletes and such a law discriminates against a Russian athlete by prohibiting him from telling the world who he or she is.

This is ridiculous - and the IOC was silent and complicit during the Holocaust - disgraceful.

Jason, above: Do you have any suggestions about how to end the Prejudice related bloodshed in RUSSIA?

Vancouver has no Olympic village any longer to house the 1,000's of athletes, coaches, trainers, staff. Where would you house these people? 

If holding hands is illegal at the ceremony, then that is fine with me, but if one group is being targeted for the same behavior, and other groups are aloud to act that behavior, then that is unfair treatment. People should be treated equal. 

Boycotts always work, some just take longer than others. Ask the white racists in South Africa...

Olympic boycotts in 1980 and 1984 didn't work. Just ask the US and Russia.

From 1960 to 1992 South Africa was banned from competing in the Olympics because nations around the world threatened to boycott the Olympics if they did,. Evern the USSR threatened to boycott the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. So boycotts do work.

And what Instinct Magazine forgot to include from Gay Star News report is the IOC threatened to allow Russians to arrest LGBT athletes who stand up for equality
"The message is clear, athletes, coaches and others who step out of line – for example by wearing rainbow pins – would not just risk arrest from Russians, but also punishment from the IOC. - See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/olympic-committee-threatens-punish-at..."

IOC and the host countries all lost money. What do you mean by "didn't work?"

Or how about the games shouldn't be about your sexuality but about your ability to excel at said sport. What does your sexuality have anything to do with your ability to compete?  I am gay and I am sick of others in the gay community CONSTANTLY making everything a damn political statement. You don't like the rules? Don't compete. No one is forcing you to. You want to compete? Then abide by the rules and show how great of an athlete you are since that is what the Olympics are all about anyway.

@Jason - you might be gay but you are still Ignorant and uninformed.  Your inability to feel compassion is astounding especially that you say you are gay.  We are fighting this because our gay brothers and sisters are being killed and abused.  So your point is for us to keep silent and who cares if they keep abusing and killing our LGBT family. Pathetic fool.

And by you resorting to name calling you are clearly an example of why the gay community is looked at as a joke.  Just another child throwing a temper tantrum and calling names instead of coming up with real solutions.  I simply stated that if you don't like it then don't go.  Pretty sure that is the same as everyone saying to boycott. I strongly believe that your sexual identity should have nothing to do with your performance as an athlete. It is just another identifier to cause division. So now instead of athletes we have gay and straight athletes. Then it will be black gay or straight, white gay or straight, Latino gay or straight...etc.  Do I think the new laws in Russia are disgusting and ridiculous? ABSOLUTELY! So to assume I don't have compassion because I said if you don't like it then don't participate is ridiculous. I never said to keep silent. Some gay athletes have asked for us to support them in their decision to put their sexuality aside and support them as they compete. So are you going to not show compassion for these men and women who have worked their entire lives toward this goal and then not support them because they won't throw a lifetime of work out the window?  When does it stop? Just because our views and methods differ, it does not mean that our hope and goal for equality for everyone is different.

Ok...since the point clearly went way over your head, allow me to elaborate Its not about wearing Pride clothes or being decked out in rainbow gear. You can be arrested on suspicion of being gay. Any athletes which have come out/are openly gay are unsafe in the whole of Russia. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not get sodomized with beer bottles and then killed because someone suspects that im not 100% hetero. So, in short, it is a human rights thing and nkt just "ugh them gays and their political statements". One should be able to go places wihout fear of, you know, DEATH.

So travel to any slum or ghetto in America and then repeat this same rhetoric and see if it has the same affect. I do agree that people should be able to live or travel places without fear of death but a little common sense tells you to not go to dangerous places. So if you don't want to get sodomized by beer bottles then don't go to Russia where we clearly know that their laws currently do not protect our LGBT family.  I feel like I am speaking to my niece by repeating myself over and over on such a simple point. If you don't like it then don't go. It really is that simple. This generation of  "No child left behind" and everyone gets to participate crap is just ridiculous. I live in the real world where that is just a day dream. Bad people exist. Everyone can't win. We don't always get our way.

Do you have any suggestions about how to end the Prejudice related bloodshed in RUSSIA?

Do you have any suggestions on how to end it here in the US? I have a friend who was beaten and raped by "straight" guys because they found out he was gay. He is a soldier in the US Army. I have another friend who gets threatened by his redneck neighbor almost on a daily basis and the police won't do anything about it. I am pretty sure my worries are a little closer to home. Speaking from an international view I ask you this: Are our current methods working? I can say without any hesitation that is a resounding NO. So if everyone would stop shouting for ten minutes and come together and have a real conversation where we don't resort to name calling and our emotions don't get the better of us, I honestly believe that we could come up with real solutions as a community that would work.

Do you have any suggestions on how to end it here in the US? I have a friend who was beaten and raped by "straight" guys because they found out he was gay. He is a soldier in the US Army. I have another friend who gets threatened by his redneck neighbor almost on a daily basis and the police won't do anything about it. I am pretty sure my worries are a little closer to home. Speaking from an international view I ask you this: Are our current methods working? I can say without any hesitation that is a resounding NO. So if everyone would stop shouting for ten minutes and come together and have a real conversation where we don't resort to name calling and our emotions don't get the better of us, I honestly believe that we could come up with real solutions as a community that would work.

This is unbelievable!  The IOC does not support its athletes.  It punishes them!!!!!

The  IOC is correct we must abide by the laws of the host Nation, it may be unjust to us but it is their laws not ours. You all would expect other Nations to obey our laws, even though they may not be correct to them!!(think about it). The games are just that; games to show different people and nationalities and their talents.  No Politics NO Religion, that is what the games are designed to be.

francespisces's picture

yes it sad that they will not take stand but punish others.

Human rights are not political or religious! And a Rainbow is a rainbow, or will the arrest the rainbow, if it rains? So what if I like things rainbow colored and I am so nervous, that I must hold hands with a friend. How the hell do they want to know if I'm gay or not by just looking at me? o.O

What about rule 4 which states the IOC will "Cooperate with the competent public or private organizations and authorities in the endeavor to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace" or rule 6 which states the committee will act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement? Seems they are picking which of their rules best suits them.

The IOC to gay and lesbian Russians: We don't care about you.

What I don't understand is why is everyone trying to make a stand in Russia? That doesn't make sense...It would be much easier and "cleaner" and make a better point just to boycott them all together. It would certainly minimize the violence which is sure to occur.. So what if Russia gets all of the medals... It won't mean anything if they are uncontested... Sometimes it is better to make a statement by not protesting, by choosing your battles wisely...Why not hold an unofficial winter games in a country that has already hosted them, so that the cost to do so would be minimized, for all of the athletes who do not wish to participate in the Russian BS? It would still increase sales for that city, the athletes and coaches would still have to pay for plane tickets and lodging..Nothing lost, but everything gained.

I love this idea and fully stand behind it! Vancouver still has all its venues up and running. Minimal costs etc. I agree, why even go to Russia?

everything is political ... or ... holding hands with anyone is not political ... will they arrest straight people for holding hands?

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