The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted in December to add “sexual orientation” to the Olympic Charter. The decision comes after pressure from gay advocacy groups following Russia’s prohibition of gay propaganda during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The change, part of a 40-point reform package pushed by IOC President Thomas Bach, passed by a unanimous 96-0 vote and reworded one of the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism.” The clause now states: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political, or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.”
Countries hoping to host the games must abide by the Olympic Charter. Opponents of the change say the new standard will mean countries bidding for the Olympics will be required to have pro-homosexual laws in place. This may affect bids from the two finalists for the 2022 Winter Games: Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China. The United States Olympic Committee has decided to make a bid for the 2024 Summer Games. Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington are all under consideration as host cities.
“There is no greater sign of progress in combating homophobia in sports than to have the oldest organized athletic competition in the history of the world saying enough is enough,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of the gay rights group Athlete Ally, in a statement following the announcement. Athlete Ally co-launched a campaign last year petitioning Russia to withdraw legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors. The group also encouraged the IOC to update its anti-discrimination clause to explicitly include “sexual orientation” as well as “gender identity,” according to Reuters. The IOC did not include “gender identity,” which would have protected transgendered athletes.
When asked about how the IOC would enforce the new principle, member Barry Maister of New Zealand said he had no idea.
“But I think the IOC often does things it can’t enforce yet can take a leadership role with,” Maister told the Chicago Tribune. “It can articulate and advocate and push for change regardless of the implementation of it. It’s the logical thing to do in today’s world.”
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SOURCE: WORLD Mag