Human-Rights Activist: Gay Athletes Should Seek Asylum During The London Olympics

Human-rights attorney Mark Stephens, whose clients include Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, says that LGBT athletes from homophobic countries should apply for asylum while they’re in England for the London Olympics this summer.

“I invite you to apply for asylum in this country on the grounds that you will face persecution at home if you are open about your sexual identity,” Stephens said Tuesday at a speech in the capital city. “The British government will have to hear your application and in doing so they will have to engage with the human-rights abuses perpetrated against the LGBT communities across the world.”

In 2010, the British government ruled that emigrants fleeing persecution in their homeland because of their sexual orientation could apply for asylum in the UK.

Stephens also called upon the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to support gay Olympians and censure countries that have laws against homosexuality. Same-sex acts between consenting adults are illegal in 78 of the 193 United Nations member states. In five countries—Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen— the death penalty is applied to those caught having same-sex relations.

And, yes, all five are sending athletes to the Games.

It’s a tough call: Certainly gay athletes should be able to apply for asylum—Soviet athletes used to do it all the time, and they weren’t even being persecuted.

But the IOC has always been happy to hold the Games in countries with detestable human-rights records, from Nazi Germany to Communist Russia.

Why should they start caring now?

Source: Reuters

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  • JP

    While these gay athletes are given the luxury to be in UK as they travelled to represent their countries, what about the oppressed ordinary gay folks elsewhere, I wonder. Not to say that attorney made a bad statement, it could have been said better. Include all the discriminated gay men across the world. Why just mention “athletes”?

  • Michael


    He clearly states for ATHLETES to do it during the SUMMER OLYMPICS. Why must you try to make it “controversial”?

  • What did you expect?

    The Brits have been sending most gay asylum seekers back to be tortured and executed. They did it to a Cameroonian this past month, and a few years ago an Iranian committed suicide by self-immolation rather than be returned to face torture and execution in Iran.

  • freddie

    @What did you expect?: Can you supply evidence for either of those cases?
    The 2010 ruling Queerty writes about was the HJ and HT v Home Secretary Supreme Court ruling, where the UK Supreme Court ruled that gay immigrants can NEVER be deported to a country where homosexuality is illegal. The only controversies are where immigrants claim to be gay but aren’t to avoid deportation.

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