15 Olympians Speak Out In Support Of Equality At The Olympics Through Principle 6

  • Oct 09, 2013

In an effort to support Olympians, fans, and Russians who want to speak out for equality, Athlete Ally and All Out are launching the Principle 6 campaign today.

Principle 6 says, “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” The first step in this campaign is a letter to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach  from 16 Olympians [http://www.athleteally.org/action/defend-principle-6/] telling Bach that it is time for the IOC to speak boldly and proactively about this human rights issue. Signatories include Sochi bound Mike Janyk (Skiing) as well as Andy Roddick (Tennis), Steve Nash (Basketball) and Megan Rapinoe (Soccer).

"Principle 6 is a way for Olympians and fans to stand up for equality and protest the heinous Russian laws. Through Principle 6 we can mobilize and inspire mass support for the ideals set forth in the Olympic Charter. Even if the International Olympic Committee won't act, people around the world will," Andre Banks Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out said.

The launch of Principle 6 comes on the heels of the IOC’s latest response to clarification of its charter. On Monday, President Thomas Bach responded to more than 70,000 All Out members who asked the IOC to clarify whether the Olympic Charter includes lesbian, gay, bi and trans people under Principle 6.

President Bach sent the following letter to All Out’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Andre Banks. [http://www.scribd.com/doc/174203622/IOC-President-Responds-to-Allout]

This latest IOC statement does not provide any actionable steps for upholding Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter or articulates whether people can be who they are at the Sochi Games. In this void, Olympic athletes are stepping forward and asking President Bach to do more.

“Helping to craft this petition to IOC President Bach is an important part of my work as an Ambassador for Athlete Ally and very much in step with being an Olympian,” said Cameron Myler, a four time Olympian who carried the US flag in in the 1994 Lillehammer Games. “Standing by idly while the values of the Olympic movement are in question is not an option for me and many others.”

“The Principle 6 campaign will take many forms because it is reflective of the diversity that the Olympic Charter has charged itself with upholding, " said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "We are launching the Principle 6 campaign with Olympic athletes because their action affirms the duty and honor of Olympic Movement. They are leaders, and just like they do in their fields of play, Olympians always seem to find new ways to inspire us.”

"With the eyes of the world on Russia during the Olympics, it's critical that athletes and fans show support for LGBT Russians who are subjected to cruel anti-gay laws violating human rights.  Defending Principle 6 affords all of us a way to demonstrate this support, and our outrage at the Putin-led government, within the very spirit of the Olympic movement.  We can't afford to lose this opportunity to push for change,” said Brian Ellner, a leading LGBT activist and member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors.

“With billions on the table, the IOC and Olympic sponsors are uniquely positioned to influence the Russian government and President Putin. “With billions on the table, the IOC and Olympic sponsors are uniquely positioned to influence the Russian government and President Putin, that is why Olympians speaking out in support of Principle 6 is so important,” Andre Banks said.

More information on how Principle 6 will manifest in social media and on the ground in Russia will become available as the 2014 Olympic Games approach.

To read New York Times’ Frank Bruni’s piece about the Principle 6 campaign and the Sochi games click here:

http://bruni.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/a-clever-solution-to-an-olympic-problem

To read the petition to the IOC signed by Olympians and fans defending Principle 6 click here:

http://www.athleteally.org/action/defend-principle-6/

To see the live signature totals from All Out’s petition visit:

https://www.allout.org/en/actions/email-olympics-pres

Additional background on Putin’s human rights crackdown:

Russia is in the process of eroding basic human rights for Russian citizens. LGBT people have been specifically targeted through laws which ban pride and any “homosexual propaganda.” Russia may go even further, and take children away from loving homes simply because their parent or parents are gay, despite overwhelming evidence that children raised by gays and lesbian do just as well as children raised by straight parents.

The passage of Russia’s anti-gay laws and the general crackdown on human rights which includes a four month moratorium on free speech in Sochi running up to, and following the 2014 Winter Olympics, is having a devastating effect on Russian citizens safety. Russian LGBT advocates claim violence is on the rise as a result of the anti-propaganda laws. We’re aware of at least 14 videos of young gay people being brutally beaten by vigilantes, and there has not been any arrests related to the violent attacks.

Putin, and the Russian government have not made any attempts to curtail the crackdown despite incredible pressure from around the world. Yet, Putin remains vulnerable because the success of the Sochi Olympics will have a direct impact on his reputation at home and abroad. The International Olympic Committee remains in conversations with Putin about the human rights crackdown, but claimed they were powerless and could not force Putin to change the law.

About All Out:

In 76 countries it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life.  All Out is mobilizing millions of people and their social networks to build a powerful global movement for love and equality. Our mission is to build a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.