FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Taylor Carr, Taylor.Carr@AthleteAlly.org, +1(315) 945-7480
Athletic Stars Call on UN States to Protect Sexual Orientation in Olympic Truce
Today, 17 professional athletes came out against attempts by Egypt and Russia to thwart non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation in the United Nations Olympic Truce Resolution. The letter, endorsed by respected athletes such as Billie Jean King, Greg Louganis and Martina Navratilova, is part of the #OlympicSpirit campaign spearheaded by OutRight Action International and Athlete Ally. It calls on countries to ensure that sexual orientation remains grounds of protection in the Olympic peace agreement.
The Olympic Truce Resolution promotes civility among nations during the Olympics and the one week preceding and one week following the games. It is negotiated by all 193 United Nations Member States every two years. In 2015 it included, by unanimous consensus, a reference to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. Principle 6 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the Olympic Games.
Breanna Stewart, 2016 US Olympic basketball competitor, commented on the situation, saying,
“Sport and society thrive when we embrace the diversity of our world. The Olympic spirit is grounded in inclusion, fair play and solidarity, and the explicit mention of Principle 6 within the Olympic Truce Resolution sends a clear message that we take these values seriously.”
This year, the inclusion of Principle 6 has come under attack, with States, such as Egypt and Russia, trying to remove all reference to Principle 6 from the Olympic Truce. Both countries have openly persecuted and criminalized lesbian, gay, and bisexual people at home and exported their homophobic agenda to the United Nations.
The letter released today emphasizes that, “At a moment when oppressed communities around the world remain under attack, we can’t afford to turn our back on our most vulnerable communities. Explicit reference to Principle 6 in the Olympic Truce Resolution sends a strong signal of our community’s support of respect, inclusion and diversity — values sport holds inherently close. Afterall, regardless of where in the world we practice sport, the rules are the same and apply to everyone. They are based on our shared values.”
Layshia Clarendon, a WNBA basketball star, also voiced her opinion on the inclusion of Principle 6, stating,
“Athletes and fans deserve the opportunity to enjoy the Olympic Movement free of the fear of discrimination, and should have the ability to live openly and authentically — regardless of sexual orientation. I believe sports performance happens at its highest level when one feels unburdened and free to focus on their games. The explicit mention of Principle 6 within the Olympic Truce Resolution sends a clear message that we take inclusion seriously.”
Luckily, with thanks to cross-regional support and pushback from key Member States, the efforts of Egypt and Russia has so far failed and Principle 6 still remains in the Truce. However, there is still time for Egypt and Russia to thwart a consensus and challenge the inclusion of Principle 6 in the Olympic Truce.
Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director, Athlete Ally, commented,
“We’re witnessing the greatest expansion of athletic activism in modern history — never before have we seen athletes speaking out so regularly for the protection and inclusion of the LGBTQ community. Today, the athletic community stands with its LGBTQ constituents and commits to not being sidelined in the fight for equality.”
17 professional athletes have signed on to the letter and reject any opposition by Egypt and Russia, as well as any other State, that is attempting to undermine the spirit of the Olympics. OutRight Action International and Athlete Ally stand with all the athletes in calling for public support of States to include reference to Principle 6 in the Olympic Truce.
A vote on the Olympic Truce Resolution will be made on November 13th, 2017.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, concludes,
“Egypt and Russia are invested in promoting discrimination at the Olympics, undermining the very spirit of the games. Thankfully, there are other States which recognize that there is no place for discrimination at the Olympics. Today, we hear clearly from these Olympians that the Games is a place for friendly competition, athleticism, and diversity, not a place for politics and divisiveness.”
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The Open Letter reads:
Dear UN General Assembly Member States,
It has been brought to our attention that certain member states of the UN General Assembly have been advocating that an explicit reference to Principle 6 in this year’s Olympic Truce Resolution be removed. We understand that many states defended the inclusion of Principle 6 in the final draft of the Resolution.
We thank the member states that have continued their steadfast commitment to including this reference thus far in negotiations, we ask member states to join South Korea by formally sponsoring the Olympic Truce for its consideration by the UN General Assembly on November 13th.
The Olympic movement is built upon the fundamental principles of respect and inclusion and the belief that the rights and freedoms of athletes and fans should be free from discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
In late 2014, the International Olympic Committee updated the language of their non-discrimination clause, Principle 6, to include explicit protections on the basis of sexual orientation. With the last Olympic Games having over 40 lesbian, gay, and bisexual athletes represent their country in pursuit of their Olympic dream, it is clear that the updated language of Principle 6 is reflective of the diversity of Olympic fans and participants and is in keeping with the ideals of the Olympic Movement.
The Olympic Truce remains an important and fundamental component of the Games, as it communicates an active commitment to allowing athletes and spectators alike to share in the ideals and joys that the Games brings — regardless of one’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and more. At a moment when oppressed communities around the world remain under attack, we can’t afford to turn our back on our most vulnerable communities. Explicit reference to Principle 6 in the Olympic Truce Resolution sends a strong signal of our community’s support of respect, inclusion and diversity — values sport holds inherently close. Afterall, regardless of where in the world we practice sport, the rules are the same and apply to everyone. They are based on our shared values.
This fundamental principle of nondiscrimination allows sport to promote peace, unity and understanding among all of humanity. It’s why we’re asking for the public support of states for explicit reference to Principle 6 to remain in the Olympic Truce Resolution.
We are hopeful that all member states will continue to uphold the values of Olympism and keep an explicit reference to Principle 6 in the Olympic Truce Resolution.