LGBT sport groups urge IOC to make sure Winter Olympics are safe for gay athletes

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Several LGBT sport and human rights organisations have called on the International Olympic Committee to make sure the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia is safe for LGBT athletes to attend.

Federation of Gay Games, Pride Sports UK, European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, United for Equality in Sports and Entertainment, Football v Homophobia and Russian LGBT Sports Federation have all signed a statement calling for “safety in Sochi and fundamental change in the Olympic Movement” – but they are not in favour of a boycott.

They do however want reforms and proposals include: Updating the Olympic Charter so it is formally opposed to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; ensuring countries that discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity should not be qualified to bid for or host Olympic Games, and also ensuring LGBT Olympic community events are allowed to take place – a request the authorities in Sochi have resisted.

On Friday, IOC President Jacques Rogge reaffirmed his organisation’s commitment to a Winter Olympics free of all discrimination following calls from such names as Stephen Fry and Tory MP Mike Freer to either relocate or outright boycott the Games altogether.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) said the proposed boycott of the Games because of the Russian Government’s position on LGBT rights and its implementation of homophobic censorship laws would serve only to “penalise athletes.”

Six members of the International Olympic Committee are currently in the running to succeed Jacques Rogge as president of the IOC.

Lou Englefield, co-ordinator of Pride House International, said: “As the IOC faces another milestone in its history with the election of a new president, members of the Pride House International coalition of LGBT sport and human rights organisations encourage the IOC to continue its modernisation journey, to include more people in the Olympic Movement, and to seize the opportunity for true inclusion and equality in sport.”

Marc Naimark, vice president for external affairs of the Federation of Gay Games, said: “Last week one of the six, Richard Carriòn, declared that measures should be taken to ensure the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) athletes and others at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and that future Olympics should not be awarded to countries that discriminate against people in any way, consistent with the spirit of the Olympic Charter. We find this statement very encouraging.”

On Wednesday, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) called on Russia to reconsider its homophobic censorship laws but said the athletics championships in Moscow should not be overshadowed by politics.

The world championships start on Saturday in Moscow.