On December 8th, the International Olympic Committee will vote on IOC President Thomas Bach’s Agenda 2020. This comprehensive plan for the future of the Olympics contains a number of sweeping reforms, including changes to the Olympic Charter that would explicitly protect LGBT athletes from discrimination by finally including “sexual orientation” in Principle 6 of the Charter.
Currently, Principle 6 states that, “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.” While the IOC has said that sexual orientation is implied in that statement, vague assumptions are not enough to safeguard the rights of LGBT athletes. These athletes deserve the opportunity to compete without the fear of discrimination or worse. The IOC must do more, and Mr. Bach now recognizes this in his push for reform.
Last year, Athlete Ally, in partnership with All Out, launched its Principle 6 campaign as a means for athletes, spectators and global supporters to celebrate the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With the help of merchandise partner American Apparel and the involvement of over 50 Olympians, Athlete Ally not only raised money and awareness about the anti-LGBT climate in Russia, but also generated a call to action so loud and strong that we are now on the verge of positively changing the language of the Olympic Charter itself.
We have already inspired progress within the IOC. Earlier this year, the IOC announced that host cities would be legally bound to protect the rights of LGBT athletes during the Olympics. This decision came after Athlete Ally and a number of other groups, including Human Rights Watch, petitioned the IOC with a letter that urged swift action to amend the bidding process for host cities, to hold host cities accountable for human rights violations, and to protect LGBT athletes from discrimination.
As the Agenda 2020 vote approaches, we want to thank our partners, allies, and supporters for their continued advocacy. The P6 campaign has been a tremendous instrument of change, and a major victory for LGBT equality in sports is on the horizon.
Olympian Belle Brockhoff
Olympian and Athlete Ally Action Award honoree James Blake
Grammy-winning recording artist Rihanna