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LGBT Sports Group Pushes IOC to Consider Human Rights in Selection of 2020 Olympics Host


Pride House International--a coalition group of LGBT sports and human rights organizations--has plenty to say about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but the group is already setting its sights on the 2020 games.  According to a press release issued yesterday, Pride House International is calling on the International Olympic Committee to choose a host country for the 2020 Summer Olympics that respects and values LGBT rights:

As the 104 voting members of the International Olympic Committee head to Buenos Aires for the organisation’s 125th session, the Pride House International coalition of LGBT sport and human rights groups is appealing to them to recall the Olympic Charter’s commitment to human rights in their choice of the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Pride House International has published resources for use by IOC voters as they consider the finalist bidders Istanbul, Madrid, and Tokyo, and is calling on the IOC to support the creation of an advisory committee for future bids to evaluate the human rights impact of hosting coming Olympic Games.

At its 125th session in Buenos Aires, the IOC will elect the host city for 2020 this Saturday, September 7.  Three cities are in the final running for the honor of hosting the games: Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo.  On its website, Pride House International has compiled a range of human rights information for IOC voters to use in making their decision, with materials from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the U.S. State Department and the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

The IOC does not consider a country's human rights record in selecting which city should host upcoming Olympic games. That policy has faced criticsm in the past--particularly in the case of China's 2008 Beijing games--and the present, with LGBT groups criticizing the Russian town of Sochi as the site for the 2014 Olympics in light of Russia's draconian 'anti-LGBT propaganda' law.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac8adac5970d-800wiLast month, as we reported here on Towleroad, Pride House International proposed a campaign called the Same Sex Hand Holding Initiative, or SSHHI:

The group is proposing the Same Sex Hand Holding Initiative, which encourages all Olympic participants: athletes, coaches, spectators, staff, media, regardless of their orientation or background, to hold hands with as many members of the same sex as possible as often as possible. That's it.

In addition to its virtual campaigns, Pride House International will be producing posters, shirts and pins to raise awareness of LGBT issues in sports during the Sochi games.  Those materials will be available on the group's website next month.

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  1. When the IOC is considering a next location for an Olympics, here's the first thing it should do:

    Go to FreedomHouse.org, go to the region in which the country being considered is in, scroll over it and cross off any country not labeled as "free."

    There, problem solved.

    Posted by: Ryan | Sep 4, 2013 6:59:34 PM

  2. The 2016 Summer Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I think the country scores pretty well on GLBT issues (comparatively speaking). Human Rights Watch is mainly concerned about police activities.


    Posted by: Fox | Sep 4, 2013 7:14:28 PM

  3. If the IOC eliminates WRESTLING as an Olympic sport, I don't care where the hold them...I'm not watching.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Sep 4, 2013 7:29:39 PM

  4. Sort of off topic, but doesn't the Madrid logo look like five flip-flops?

    Posted by: Kyle Childress | Sep 4, 2013 7:53:01 PM

  5. With the IOC's record Istanbul is a shoe-in since Tehran and Riyadh didn't apply.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Sep 4, 2013 8:11:26 PM

  6. Selection of a new IOC President in a few days may very well have had a hand in Putin's about face on LGBT affirming insignia at Sochi. With his long time crony Rogge out the door and two of the six candidates LGBT supportive he probably saw a little backtracking as a good stopgap.

    Charlie Sullivan's pitch to OutSports to get a worldwide show of LGBT support at Sochi looks doable again.

    Something else in the works is a campaign to get Feb 2014 officially designated as 'International Human Rights Equality Month'. Contact your federal legislator and get them on board. The more countries around the world that participate the less Russia can claim LGBT equality as a Western liberal idea.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Sep 4, 2013 8:34:44 PM

  7. Been to all three. Madrid - hands down - is the most tolerant, sophisticated and non-controversial choice. They also have massive existing sports venues and extensive, easily navigable public transportation systems.

    Madrid 2020. Do it, IOC!

    Posted by: MFinBH | Sep 4, 2013 8:50:12 PM

  8. let's see if uganda is willing to host, then maybe we can see how the ioc really feels about human rights.

    the ioc has definitely put their foot square into it, and it stinks more than they could have dreamed. they could see this coming, had time to act, and did nothing. too bad they'll never see it through their self-absorbed, elitist glasses.

    Posted by: northalabama | Sep 4, 2013 8:52:01 PM

  9. Consider? It should do nothing of the kind. It is a DEMAND if they want continued funding. If the IOC fails to hand over the 2020 Olympics to any country that doesn't honor equal rights it will be an all out war against the IOC and the Olympics themselves.

    They either get off their a**es and do the right thing or we'll throw their a**es to the gutter.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Sep 4, 2013 10:30:26 PM

  10. 2016 will mark the first time ever that the first time ever that the Olympics will be held in a nation with marriage equality (Brazil). So they seem to have gotten that one right.

    Posted by: Ken | Sep 5, 2013 12:11:08 AM

  11. The odds makers say Tokyo is the favorite.

    Posted by: Ken | Sep 5, 2013 12:19:53 AM

  12. @Ken. Rio de Janiero was chosen for 2016 before Brazil gained marriage equality, so it wasn't a factor.

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Sep 5, 2013 1:58:29 AM

  13. The current IOC have proven that they are so far removed from the original intent of the Olympics....which truly were more about celebrating humanity than simply making money. The IOC showed their behind with China, and now they are doing it again with Russia, and frankly, I'm over it.

    Posted by: Julio | Sep 5, 2013 7:19:35 AM

  14. Well, i think it will be a battle between Tokio and Madrid, so gay rights won't be a problem in that games

    Posted by: jjose712 | Sep 5, 2013 8:14:58 AM

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