Politics

Members Of Congress Urge Olympic Committee To Add LGBT Protections

“[W]e … respectfully request that you amend Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” the 19 members write.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (third from right) waves next to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach of Germany (third from left) during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 23. Phil Noble / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Nineteen members of Congress on Tuesday asked the International Olympic Committee to amend its charter later this year to bar anti-LGBT discrimination.

“[W]e … respectfully request that you amend Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” the letter to IOC President Thomas Bach states.

The move follows the Winter Olympics that took place this February in Sochi, Russia. The country, the IOC, athletes, and sponsors faced questions about Russia’s anti-LGBT laws and whether the IOC was taking strong enough action to protect LGBT athletes and attendees.

Led by members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee of both parties, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tuesday’s letter is a sign that, while the issue has not been front and center since the closing ceremony in Sochi, it remains on the radar of some.

The letter is signed by four of the out LGBT members of Congress, including Cicilline and Reps. Michael Michaud, Mark Takano, and Mark Pocan.

“At your meeting in Monaco this December, the IOC will have a chance to further its commitment to the ideals of human rights and the fellowship of sport,” the letter states. “While we understand that politics are not a component of the Olympic Games, we believe amending Principle 6 to further uphold the ideals of non-discrimination will illustrate how the Olympic Games achieve their fundamental principle of ‘plac[ing] sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind …”

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