Last weekend, human-rights activist Peter Tatchell led activists in a demonstration encouraging the International Olympic Committee to ban nations from the London Games that practice discrimination based on gender (and gender presentation), ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof) and sexual orientation.
The group held placards outside the Hilton Park Lane Hotel, which is hosting the IOC for the lenghth of the games.
“The government of Saudi Arabia restricts women’s participation in sport and requires women athletes to be accompanied by male guardians. Iran has gender segregation in sport and forces women athletes to entirely cover their bodies, even if they do not wish to do so,” said Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. “In 150-plus countries, gay athletes have to hide their sexuality to get selected for the Olympics and are at risk of imprisonment and even execution. The Olympic Charter outlaws discrimination in sport but it is not being enforced by the IOC.”
Tatchell also sent an open letter to Sebastian Coe, a former Olympian and London’s ambassador to the Games, and IOC President Jacques Rogge. In it he set out a pair of demands:
- All competing nations should be required to sign a pledge that they do not discriminate in sport on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion/belief, sexual orientation or gender identity. If they refuse to sign, they should be denied participation in the games.
- Jacque Rogge and Lord Coe should make a public statement that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender (LGBT) athletes are welcome at London 2012 and that participating nations must not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
What do you think Queerty readers? Should athletes from nations that discriminate be banned or is that punishing them for the actions of their leaders? Would we miss out on a Jessie Owens moment of our own?