LGBT Sports Coalition supports open LGBT participation in Olympic Games and urges powers to secure safety of LGBT attendees

GLAAD is a proud member of the LGBT Sports Coalition. The coalition is an association of organizations and individuals committed to ending anti-LGBT bias in sports by 2016. It was formalized at the LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Ore., in June 2013.

The members of the LGBT Sports Coalition stand united against the new onslaught of anti-gay laws adopted by Russia. With the world’s attention focusing more every day on the Olympic Games in Sochi this February, it is incumbent on the International Olympic Committee, the Russian government and the governments of all Olympic nations to guarantee the safety of every Olympic attendee before, during and long after these Winter Games.

Rather than talk about boycotts, the LGBT Sports Coalition is focused on participation. Whether or not an athlete is a member of the LGBT community, everyone who qualifies for these Games deserves the opportunity to compete safely. Out Olympians like New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup cannot be beacons of hope for repressed LGBT Russians by forcing them to stay home during the Games.

We did not choose Russia to host these Winter Games. However, we can use it as an opportunity to showcase the damage of repressive governments like that of President Putin.

While the IOC has said that no LGBT athletes will be affected by the law, comments this week by the law’s sponsor, Vitaly Milonov, claim otherwise. We believe the onus falls on Olympic power brokers, not the athletes, to effectively deal with Russia’s anti-gay laws. To that end, the LGBT Sports Coalition calls for the following:

  • The International Olympic Committee must ensure that every LGBT athlete, coach, spectator and media member – be they from Russia or elsewhere – is safe from arrest and physical harm during the entirety of the Winter Games. This goes beyond making simple statements to the media: The IOC selected a nation with a poor human rights track record; it is on them to deliver a safe Games for everyone.
  • The Obama Administration, and in particular Secretary of State John Kerry, must create a plan with other LGBT-friendly nations to engage Russia and every nation in the repeal of all laws criminalizing homosexuality.
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Rosemary DiCarlo must engage the United Nations in pursuing sanctions against Russia and any nation that criminalizes homosexuality.
  • Corporations that do business in Russia must pressure the Putin government to engage in talks to repeal the nation’s anti-gay laws.
  • NBC and other media outlets that cover the Winter Games must discuss the repressive anti-gay laws that exist in the host country.

Inviting participation is the spirit of the Olympic Games. It is incumbent upon all of these people to ensure that all LGBT Olympians are able to compete openly, proudly and without any negative repercussion.

The LGBT Sports Coalition stands ready, willing and able to help any entity – be they nation, corporation or athlete – battle these anti-gay laws in the Olympic host nation. Member organizations supporting the statement include GLAAD, Campus Pride, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Br{ache the Silence Campaign, Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project, Athlete Ally, Equality Coaching Alliance, GO! Athletes, the Federation of Gay Games, You Can Play and Outsports. Individual members supporting the statement include writer Christina Kahrl, photographer Jeff Sheng, softball coach Kirk Walker, educator Sue Rankin, trans activist Kye Allums and basketball coach Sherri Murrell.

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