In the wake of backlash over the Sochi games, often overshadowed by the host country Russia’s anti-gay laws, the International Olympic Committee on Monday made another attempt at formally declaring its inclusiveness of the LGBT community.
Members of the IOC unanimously approved a measure to rewrite the Olympic Charter’s non-discrimination policy, adding sexual orientation to the list, according to the Associated Press. Under Principle 6, the new clause says there should be no discrimination "of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."
Many human rights activists, leaders and athletes slammed the Sochi games and the Olympic organizers for turning a blind eye to a 2013 law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” Public displays of affection on the streets, pride rallies, being gay or being suspected of being gay could potentially land citizens and tourists in the slammer. In return, many critics called for full-fledged boycott of the Olympic Games, not to mention the country’s most prized commodity: vodka.
“It should go without saying that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is not compatible with the ideals of the Olympic movement. And without explicit protections for LGBT people, the IOC allowed Russia, with its draconian anti-LGBT laws, to host this prestigious event,” said Ty Cobb, Human Rights Campaign director of Global Engagement, in a statement to msnbc. “Even though the IOC has now taken an important first step, more needs to be done to ensure that in future games, all people are respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Today’s step is not even a baby one, argues another LGBT activist. He says it’s a “PR plug.”
“I don’t think it’s real. They told us that the Olympic Charter already protected gay people, and yet they chose Russia to host the 2014 games,” Out Sports co-founder Cyd Zeigler told msnbc.
Zeigler argues the IOC needs to fully stand by their LGBT policies, by applying these principles when selecting host countries and beyond. “They continue to have countries that persecute and kill people simply for being gay – you can’t reconcile that with the idea that is a meaningful development.” Until that happens, he said, “It’s putting lipstick on a pig.”