IOC Forbids LGBT Rights Advocacy At Sochi Olympics

Sochi Olympic Rings
Previously, the International Olympic Committee has assured LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators that they will "work to ensure" that the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will take place "without discrimination", and that they had "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the (anti-gay) legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games." This seemed to quell apprehension, as well as embolden the likes of Johnny Weir, Blake Skjellerup, and most recently, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

Now, the IOC seems to be changing its tone, according to a new report released by Gay Star News and publicized by The Advocate. According to the report, the IOC plans equate any displays of LGBT rights advocacy or solidarity with a "demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda", which is prohibited by Rule 50 if the organization's charter. Those found in violation of Rule 50 can be subject to "disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned," without any sort of appeal. The IOC spokeswoman who spoke to Gay Star News did not specify if those found "in violation of Rule 50" would also be subject to any punitive action by Russian authorities. 

She was asked, though, if the games might provide any sort of "Pride House" where openly LGBT athletes would be able to be fully free and open in a more secluded setting. She responded by saying:

"Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration. This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary. In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done."

Sochi GraphicWhile it may come as some consolation that the IOC is not directly aligning itself with the Russian government, Gay Star News did point out the troubling fact that "the Olympics own charter describes such things as ‘propaganda’ – the same word used by the Russians in their new anti-gay law which stops homosexuality being ‘promoted’ to minors." Also note that, as of now, the Olympic Charter only forbids discrimination on the basis of race, religion, politics and gender. Terms like "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are conspicuously absent or incomplete. 

No reactions have been released yet from LGBT athletes or advocates regarding this newest development in the Sochi Olympics controversy. No doubt, though, that this most recent statement will likely galvanize and inflame those standing on both sides of the debate. We will, of course, keep track of these developments as they come in…since this fight is likely far from over. 


  1. gr8guyca says


    The IOC will tolerate the anti-gay laws in Russia.
    The IOC will not tolerate any statements against those laws.

    Clearly, a resolution is not going to come from the IOC.

  2. Munro says

    Wowwww. They are *really trying it.* Ms. Weir needs to get arrested in her technicolor dreamcoat.

    Really though, a bunch of people should go with the expectation of being arrested.

  3. CPT_Doom says

    So, if an athlete remembers her gay brother when being interviewed after winning a medal, they are going to strip that medal before turning her over to Putin’s stormtroopers for her arrest? That sure as hell is what this sounds like.

    Clearly the protests against Russia now have to include the IOC and all corporate sponsors of the Hatelympics in Sochi.

  4. Dback says

    Okay, that’s it: deal-breaker. The IOC (which you may recall once sued to make sure there would be no “Gay Olympics”) has shown their true colors, and they are not only not our friends, they’re not even interested in protecting athletes of any orientation.

    I say if you’re gay–and/or if your country has any interest in promoting human rights–pull out of the Olympics, now. Let the whole thing collapse in on itself, and see how quickly they (the IOC) talks about moving things to Vancouver.

  5. Jeff says

    The IOC does not care about anything but money.
    Boycott the Olympics
    Boycott all Sponsors of the Olympics.
    Coke, McDonalds, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, Panasonic and more.

  6. says

    WoW !
    So don’t be gay, act gay, dont’t bring your lover partner husband wife…….don’t have any gay symbols….
    Way to go IOC…..all the way with the Fascists right into the camps……they’re only re-education camps after all.
    What a crowd of weasels these IOC are.

  7. northalabama says

    since when does expressing your sexual orientation equate “demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda”?

    if you’re straight, and thank your boyfriend or girlfriend on camera, or wear a wedding band, is this propaganda, too?

    i wish the ioc was as concerned about the contract russia signed to host the games as they are about interpreting their own rules. the ioc has really stepped in it now.

  8. jjose712 says

    This is going to end really bad. In a world with internet you can do this without a big big backlash.
    And if the companies that sponsor the games feel they get bad press instead of good, it would be a very uphill battle to find the money to make more games

  9. Marc says

    F– the Olympics. Seriously. If they can’t treat us any better than the Russian, eff ’em all. This is sick, disgusting and infuriating.
    So much for bringing people together in peace.
    Idiots. Every single one of them. This was the WORST move they could have made. WORST.

  10. Hey Darlin' says

    I’m not surprised by the IOC at this point. Russia has tested them and they are clearly on board with Russia’s ideaology, as they have now made clear to the entire world. Any organization that has dragged it’s feet and delayed responsibility this long was just busy looking for their “out” to proceed as they have intended the entire time they were supposedly working on a solution. They have shown where their interests lie.

    The real question has ceased to hinge on the IOC and whether they will show compassion for the atrocities Russia commits against it’s own people. Instead, who are the corporate sponsors of this treatment the IOC feels is so fair and equal, good enough for the world to allow? Who’s going to cover the event? Will they broadcast what’s happening to common citizens on the streets the one’s with no voice, or only focus on the propaganda of Russia? Which group will be next on Russia’s list?

  11. Leo says

    This should surprise precisely no one. For decades the IOC has been free to be commandered by the highest bidder. They don’t care about the athletes or human rights. Their prior statements were nothing but a well strategized PR smokescreen and this is a peek at the proverbial “man behind the curtain”. It’ll be fascinating, surreal, and terrifying to see how this all plays out. And yes…I’ll freely admit I don’t have the cajones to go over there myself – I’ll be cheering on that speed skater though :/ I did sign the petitions at least…:/ Sigh…

  12. Omar says

    The IOC has lost its mind and they has just added a huge amount of fuel to the ongoing fire.

    The problem is not any of the “propoganda” that the athletes could promote but the extreme unfairness of current Russian laws and culture.

  13. Mike says

    Rule 50 translation: the host country can promote and display any amount of propaganda they want. If an athlete makes the host country uncomfortable, they go bye-bye. This explains the display of Aryan supremacy allowed by the IOC in the 1936 Berlin games. It seems the IOC needs to re-evaluate its priorities on displays of “political propaganda”.

    I wonder how Rule 50 would hold up if it wasn’t funded by billions of dollars in sponsorships from American companies like Coca-Cola and NBC.

  14. Mike says

    Rule 50 translation: the host country can promote and display any amount of propaganda they want. If an athlete makes the host country uncomfortable, they go bye-bye. This explains the display of Aryan supremacy allowed by the IOC in the 1936 Berlin games. It seems the IOC needs to re-evaluate its priorities on displays of “political propaganda”.

    I wonder how Rule 50 would hold up if it wasn’t funded by billions of dollars in sponsorships from American companies like Coca-Cola and NBC.

  15. Gerry says

    Whatever. As many have already pointed out this should surprise nobody. It’s all about $$$ – if sponsors started to pull out they would quickly change their tune. @Mike hit the nail on the head.

  16. ratbastard says

    The IOC has the old school democratic socialist Euro mentality that people should not be allowed to question authorities too much, because those authorities know what’s best for them. Average people should know their place, and realize that esteemed academics and other luminaries in the arts, business world and politics are their natural superiors, and shouldn’t be too closely analyzed and questioned. The IOC has spoken, now do as you’re told. You don’t want to be too ‘loud’ and American.

  17. Hue-Man says

    Will NBC be prosecuted if it interviews a male figure skater who has a “high voice” or a women’s ice hockey player who has a “husky voice”? Will the athletes be prosecuted if they don’t conform to Russian requirements of “manliness” and “womanliness”? Sure looks like non-traditional values propaganda polluting the pristine minds of Russian children…

  18. EchtKultig says

    “The IOC does not care about anything but money.”

    I realized this 20 years ago.

    “The IOC has the old school democratic socialist Euro mentality”

    No. Most of the leadership are casts-off from the corporate world or come from wealthy, right-wing European families, including some royal ones. Besides the world of sports, if you haven’t noticed yet, is inherently conservative.

    Sorry kids, the Russian problem is going to get worst before it gets better. I’ve read more than one serious history of WWII noting that while Eastern Europeans and Hungarians hated the Germans and Russians, they were only terrified of the Russian soldiers. The Germans were no doubt committing an monumental atrocity at the death camps, but their soldiers didn’t rape every woman and child at every village they were garrisoned as the Russians did. (and don’t forget that the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which fomented antisemitism across Europe was actually written by the Russians) There’s a deep ugliness is the Russian national character, that’s been surpressed for decades and is now coming into full bloom. The intelligent people have left…they have been leaving since the 19th century. What’s left in the gene pool? Well…figure it out yourself.

  19. ToThePoint says

    “the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.” There is NOTHING political nor religious about being gay. The IOC just wants us to remain in the closet and allow persecution to reign thru-out the developed world. The IOC is not our ally in any way shapr or form. The are the politicians.

  20. EchtKultig says

    But don’t get me wrong. “National character” is not the same as “the character of everyone in the nation”. I’m personally friends with a lovely Russian woman and have known some very nice Russian people. Point being though, they’ve all left it for the West.

  21. Joseph2 says

    Does the IOC invoke Rule 50 when female athletes from Islamic countries wear head-to-toe apparel? Isn’t that promoting religion? Or when Jews wear a Star of David necklace? Or when Christians wear a cross?

    Greedy hypocrites. Disgusting.

  22. Urbane says

    Folks, as someone who worked on an Olympic Bid for years and has met many IOC members, I can assure you unequivocally that the only thing that matters to them is their status and the money and prestige that comes with their role. Achieved by whatever means necessary. Period. There are certainly a few highly respected and very reputable and independent minded IOC members, but they are rare. I suggest hiting them where it hurts, their pockets and their egos.

    Also, IOC President Jacques Rogge it should be noted refused to honor the 11 Israeli Olympians killed 40 years prior in the Munich Massacre, during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics. He did this despite the standing request of the families of the 11 Israeli Olympic team members and political pressure from the United States, Britain, and Germany. This is who we are dealing with here. Real gems who are really just world class hypocrites.

  23. Jerry says

    Actually, there is a precedent for the IOC’s action. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 1968, Mexico City. The two 200 meter runners were expelled from the Olympics for making the Black Power gesture on the medal stand.

  24. Franklin says

    In light of the IOC’s clarification of their total lack of GLBT protections, there’s sufficient cause to boycott and cancel the games entirely.

    Boycott every single sponsor, and show GLBT athletes some damn support, instead of trying to back them in a corner like so many people here have been trying to do.

    If the IOC wants to fall on the wrong side of history and basic human rights, let them and their sponsors suffer the fallout.

    It’s on MF’ers.

  25. rippper says

    I’m sorry, but you guys unquestionably believe something called Gay Star News?

    Next you’ll be telling me Queerty reports that all female athletes will be banned from shaving their legs at the Sochi Olympics.

  26. Franklin says

    Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 Official worldwide partners :


    Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 Official Partners:

    Jet Set
    Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 Official Supporters
    Arcelor Mittal
    Thomas Cook

    Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 Suppliers:

    World Class
    Exect Business Training
    Kelly Services
    Kaspersky Lab
    Contemporary International
    Russian Buses – Gaz Group
    Life Fitness
    PR agency CROS

  27. Lee says

    Big surprise the same peoe who don’t have the balls to stand up to the Arabs and remember the innocent Jewish athletes kill in 1972 also doesn’t have the stones to fight Putin.

  28. Chitown Kev says

    “the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.”


    Since when?

    “During the summer the Olympic games were celebrated, the Olympiad being that in which Androsthenes, an Arcadian, won his first victory in the pancratium. The Lacedaemonians were excluded from the temple by the Eleans, and so could neither sacrifice nor contend in the games. For they had refused to pay the fine which, according to Olympic law, the Eleans had imposed upon them, alleging that they had brought an armed force against the fortress of Phyrcus, and had introduced some hoplites of their own into Lepreum during the Olympic truce. The fine amounted to two thousand minae,53 being two minae54 for each hoplite, which is the penalty imposed by the law. The Lacedaemonians sent envoys who argued that the sentence was unjust, for at the time when their troops entered Lepreum the truce had not been announced at Lacedaemon. The Eleans replied that the truce (which they always proclaim first to themselves) had already begun with them, and that while they were quietly observing the truce, and expecting nothing less, the Lacedaemonians had treacherously attacked them. The Lacedaemonians rejoined by asking why the Eleans proclaimed the truce at all at Lacedaemon if they considered them to have broken it already–they could not really have thought so when they made the proclamation; and from the moment when the announcement reached Lacedaemon all hostilities had ceased. The Eleans were still positive that the Lacedaemonians were in the wrong, and said that they would never be persuaded of the contrary. But if the Lacedaemonians were willing to restore Lepreum to them, they offered to remit their own share of the penalty, and pay on their behalf that part which was due to the God.”

    Thucydides- The Pelopennisian War 5.49

  29. gregorybrown says

    Both the IOC and PUTINIA (aka Russia) are authoritarian and fascist in mentality and practice. The latteris moving fast toward a revival of Stalinist totalitarianism.

  30. Andy says

    The Olympics needs to become a tradition of the past like the World’s Fair.
    Just don’t watch the Olympics this winter, and give Putin the silent treatment.

  31. Bill says

    @Jerry: Tommie Smith and John Carlos were expelled, as you said, for a “black power gesture,” which was in fact political – they were not expelled for being members of a racial minority.

    What the IOC might mean is that they won’t let people hold up banners demanding that the Russian law be repealed or make political arguments against it during Olympic events. It does not mean (or at least does not necessarily mean) that it is against the rules for a gay athlete to thank his husband or boyfriend for support when straight athletes can do the equivalent thing.

    @Relax: of course “The Olympics is not a forum for sexuality,” as they athletes apparently don’t discuss sexuality: if they merely discussed it, the “management” wouldn’t order such a large supply of condoms to hand out “just in case” (just in case of the inevitable).

    What we should do is to demand answers to concrete questions: can a gay athlete kiss his boyfriend after winning an event, just like a straight athlete might kiss his girlfriend? Will there be a “Pride House” like there was in some previous Olympics? A “Pride House” is a place to sleep or maybe eat where gay athletes might feel more comfortable, and hence is not political.

  32. walter says

    so much for all the assurances that gay athletes are going to be safe . the ioc is running away from those earlier statements which rely mean either the games move or they get boycotted

  33. andrew says

    Most of the nations who participate in the Winter Olympics are European nations many if not most of whom are LGBT friendly. I think that backward Russia, by European standards, is in for some major embarrassments. There is no way that some of the athletes and or spectators are not going to express their solidarity with Russian LGBT people. At least, I sure hope not!

  34. Jerry says

    Very true; I meant that as indicative of the enforcement of Rule 50. So the waving of rainbow flags as has been suggested by Senator Schumer would probably be subject to such enforcement as “political speech.”

  35. Will says

    What will the IOC and the Russian Govt. say when the first LBGT athlete or supporter is fined jailed or killed by this hideous law?

    The IOC have taken a stance, now the world must take a stance.

    International disgust, shame and economic pressure is the only solution at this point and by the way, all sponsors of this hateful event, get ready, take a stance or the consequences.

    Tourism companies and the travel industry (Thomas Cook) from hotels to airlines please take note. We are not interested in your dangerous hateful country.

    Do not use the shameful name Sochi Olympics.

    This event needs to be re-branded by all supporters worldwide as as the Sochi HATElympics (thanks from commenter CPY_DOOM). Logos and graphics anybody? They need to flood the internet.

    This is going to get way worse before it gets any better. The world will be watching.

  36. Seriously says

    “Previously, the International Olympic Committee has assured LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators that they will “work to ensure” that the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will take place “without discrimination”.” So how does Rule 50 apply to spectators? Apparantely they will not ensure even spectators.

  37. Daniel says

    Maybe if the “Rainbow” flag is considered to be too political. Maybe the Pink Triangle should be used, since it is history. Actually, might be a more appropriate symbol.

  38. AngelaChanning says

    You only need one major sponsor to break the ice and others may follow. I am sure there better minds than mine that can come up with a strategy.

  39. Bill says

    @Daniel: while a rainbow flag might be considered “too political” (to them, not to me, but I don’t make the rules), I can see a cogent argument for a gay athlete wearing a small rainbow pin – something you would not really notice unless standing right next to him. The argument is, “It is not political – it is merely an indication of who can hit on me without being automatically rejected due to a gender incompatibility.”

    In the film Casablanca, the Prefect of Police, Renault said he was “rounding up twice the usual number of suspects” to placate a Nazi colonel named Strasser (played by a German expatriate who hated the Nazis, if only due to his wife being Jewish). When asked about a Pride House, the IOC should simply say, “We are providing twice the usual number of condoms.” Now that would be a clever way of dismissing the Ruskies (to use the phrase Major Kong used in Doctor Strangelove – [Major Kong was played by an actor whose stage name(?) was Slim Pickens, and they just gave him his lines to read, not telling him that the movie was a comedy, so he’d be sure to play it straight – he sounded off the set just like he did on the set]).

  40. Kev C says

    Rule 50 is just a clothing rule. The bigger violations of the Olympic Charter are:

    Fundamental Principle #6: 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.

    IOC Mission Principle #6: to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement

    Rule 27 – 2.5: to take action against any form of discrimination and violence in sport

    Legal action should be taken to force the IOC to obey the Olympic Charter.

  41. m says

    pathetic bullsh*t.

    the us should not be going to the games.

    its hypocritical to advance lgbt rights in the us and then participate in something where anything lgbt is prohibited. putting up with the silence is an outrage.

    our existence bothers them? f*ck them. the ioc is wrong.

  42. Tarc says

    I’m curious how the IOC sepearates the genetic nature of the athlete from the genetic nature of his sexual orientation. If the Russians were threatening the Jewish for keeping kosher or praying, their answer would be different – and being homosexual is more intrinsic.

  43. Nemo says

    The truly sad thing is that in 1936 the Nazi’s tried harder and were held to higher standards than Russia is being held to today.

    How far we have come… and how far we have slipped. We are more accepted today then we were back then, but our leaders have less backbone now then they did then.

    Sadly, I think the only thing that will change things is if there is a major incident, even a blood bath.

    At this point I think our supportive athletes should do interviews & walk around with Rainbow tape over their mouth and hand-cuffed. Let that speak- without speaking.

  44. Randy says

    I am so sick and tired of people saying that when gays do the exact same thing that striaght do — talk about their relationships, hold hands in public, merely say we exist — are “political” acts.

    I’ve heard it so often from the right wing haters, and this is nothing new. But it still grates.

  45. Queer Supremacist says

    I will never watch the Olympigs again, nor will I ever patronize any of their sponsors. Every last one of them is a genocide enabler, just like they were when that Nazi sympathizer Avery Brundage rejected a boycott of the 1936 summer games.

    Death to homophobes.

  46. Jerry6 says

    @BOOBOO YES! I have seen and printed a copy of the sponsors. The only one that I can not live without is “Microsoft”. All of the rest have non participateing competitors and/or types of merchants I have never done business with in the past.

  47. tom says

    Maybe if the “Rainbow” flag is considered to be too political. Maybe the Pink Triangle should be used, since it is history. Actually, might be a more appropriate symbol. – Daniel

    That is a BRILLIANT idea :)

  48. DJLee says

    The games are not going to be moved to Vancouver. To expect that all future Olympics will be held in a country with marriage equality or even basic equality for gays is a pipe dream. Boycotts will do some damage, but not enough- The sponsors paid their Olympic licensing fees some time ago- they are not going to get any money back and will not be pulling out of the games. That’s business. It’s all about making money and that trumps gay rights with the IOC and the sponsors with their bottom lines.

Leave A Reply