US Olympic Committee adds 'sexual orientation' to non-discrimination policy

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) revised its non-discrimination policy to include 'sexual orientation,' which is perhaps the most direct that the USOC will address Russia's anti-LGBT laws.

Currently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not offer non-discrimination protections on sexual orientation, and has a ban in place on political protests or demonstrations. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said that they would "seek clarity" on how the IOC will treat athletes who speak out against Russia's anti-LGBT laws, while it has given US athletes the freedom to speak out in the run up to the Games:

Even though we have been assured by the IOC that the new law will not directly impact anybody in Russia for the Games, it is important for us to emphasize that we believe the law is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the Olympic and Paralympic movements. To bring that point home, yesterday, our board voted to amend the USOC’s code of conduct to include specific mention of sexual orientation in our own non-discrimination policy. We have told our athletes, your athletes, where we stand and we have given them the freedom to express themselves in the run-up to the Games however they see fit. 

Several athletes have spoken out against Russia's anti-LGBT laws, including Nick Symmonds and Bode Miller, who spoke with ESPN recently.


"We are thrilled to see the USOC taking proactive steps to welcome and include LGBT athletes," said You Can Play's Executive Director, Wade Davis. "We hope that the numerous LGBT athletes who will represent the United States now and in the future will feel more confident knowing their country's governing body has their back." 

"The message of non-discrimination is an important first step," said GLAAD National Spokesperson Omar Sharif Jr. "It's a message that now needs to trickle up to the International Olympic Committee so that LGBT athletes and fans are safe and protected, not only in this Winter's Olympic Games in Sochi, but for all future games."