London Olympics: Protesters urge no discrimination

LONDON -- Protesters on Sunday, July 22, called on the International Olympic Committee to “enforce the Olympic Charter and ban discrimination in sport.”

“The IOC should disqualify from the Olympics countries that discriminate against athletes on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion/belief, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Olympic Charter prohibits discrimination in sport but it is not being enforced by the IOC,” said protest organiser and human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

The protesters today rallied outside the Hilton Park Lane Hotel, which is hosting the International Olympic Committee for the duration of the 2012 games.

“The government of Saudi Arabia restricts women’s participation in sport & requires women athletes to be accompanied by male guardians. Iran has gender segregation in sport & forces women athletes to entirely cover their bodies, even if they do not wish to do so. 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 said.

Read Tatchell’s Open Letter to Lord Coe and Jacques Rogge, which sets out examples of discrimination in sport and outlines his appeal for action.

“The IOC and LOCOG have a duty to uphold the Olympic Charter’s commitment to equality for all in sport. They are failing to do so.

“Our protest calls on the IOC to enforce the Olympic Charter.

"1. 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.

"2. 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,” Tatchell said.

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