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Home / Press Release / Congress Urges the International Olympic Committee to Amend Principle 6
April 15, 2014

Congress Urges the International Olympic Committee to Amend Principle 6

Washington D.C. ­– Today nineteen members of the House of Representatives urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to prohibit discrimination at future Olympic and Paralympic Games by amending Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to explicitly include  sexual orientation and gender identity in its non-discrimination statement.  The call came in a bipartisan letter sent to President Thomas Bach urging him to add an update to Principle 6 as an agenda item at the IOC’s 2014 Extraordinary Session to be held this coming December in Monaco.  Human Rights First worked with Equality Caucus leaders to ensure that Congress’s voice was added to the important groundswell of support for changes in the Olympic Charter. 

“The violation of basic human rights should never be a backdrop for athletic achievement nor overshadow the value of diversity that represents the very foundation of the Olympic Games,” wrote the representatives. “As members of the United States Congress, we ask you to make this commitment to the future of the Olympic Movement, in this way underscoring the unique power of sport in fostering global unity.”

“Every two years the Olympic Games serve as a reminder that nations with diverse and different backgrounds can join together to promote peace through sport,” said U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and Foreign Affairs Committee.  “Discrimination, wherever it may occur, contradicts the mission of the International Olympic Committee, and expanding principle 6 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity would promote basic human freedoms and be another stride toward a more equal playing field.”

During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, worldwide outrage was spurred by Russia’s discriminatory anti-LGBT laws. Russian authorities arrested dozens of LGBT activists, allies, and journalists in an attempt to silence voices of dissent. Human Rights First continues to urge the IOC to make equality an indisputable part of all future Olympic Games by amending the Olympic host city bid process to include a provision against discrimination, updating Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to include discrimination with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, and including specific human rights commitments in future host city contracts.

“Discrimination of LGBT individuals is never acceptable, least of all when the Olympic Games are held up as an example of leadership to the world,” said U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). “Athletes who have diligently trained and achieved the apex of their Olympic career should not face a barrier made of prejudice after they have jumped, swam, and run their way toward excellence.”

Human Rights First sent a delegation to the Sochi Olympic Games, which included gay athlete David Pichler, an Olympic diver. While there, they engaged with international media and human rights defenders about the crackdown on civil society in Russia. Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to keep up the pressure on Russian lawmakers to repeal the anti-propaganda laws and prevent the passage of further discriminatory laws.

For more information contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.

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