In a unanimous vote, the International Olympic Committee amended the Olympic Charter to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination language in Principal 6. This change was partially in response to the Sochi games, which stirred up worldwide controversy due to Russia’s gay propaganda law, said Reuters (12.8.14). The law was passed before the 2014 Winter Olympics and made providing “homosexual propaganda” or “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to individuals under 18 years of age a crime, punishable by a fine.
The Principle 6 clause of the Olympic Charter will now state that the Olympics should be free of 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.”
By amending Principle 6, the IOC specifically added sex and sexual orientation to its Olympic Charter. The language also will be included in the host city contract between the IOC and future Olympic Games hosts. The 2022 Winter Olympic host finalists are Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Rights groups had also wanted the inclusion of the term gender identity in the amendment but the IOC did not add it. ‘Gender identity” would have protected trans-gender athletes, spectators and others.
The campaign to have Principle 6 added to the Olympic Charter was launched in January2014. The Principle Six campaign was put together by All Out, a social media organizing advocacy group with close to 2 million members around the world, and Athlete Ally an organization working to end homophobia and transphobia in sports. Over 50 athletes also joined the campaign to strengthen the Olympic principle of non-discrimination. These athletes, who represented many countries and sports, included Andy Roddick, US, Tennis; Seth Wescott, US, Snowboarding; Lori Lindsey, US, Soccer; Mike Janyk, Canada, Skiing; Joerg Fiedler, Germany, Fencing; and Heath Spence, Australia, Bobsled.
Discrimination has no place in the Olympics. Moreover, all sports and sporting events should take steps to ensure that teams do not discriminate against players based on sexual orientation. Success in sports depends on factors like talent, skill, fitness, mental attitude and good coaching. It is not dependent on whether an athlete is gay or not.