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HRC Joins Call for Institutional Change at the International Olympic Committee

The Human Rights Campaign joined more than 30 other human rights organizations in a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging them to modify the selection standards for future Olympic host countries to include only those who do not have discriminatory laws in place.

The coalition includes U.S.-based, European and Russian human rights groups, and is addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach. As the Winter Olympics closed in Sochi, the coalition called on Bach and the IOC to “faithfully reflect the principles of the Olympic Charter, including Principal 6, which forbids discrimination of any kind.”

“The Sochi Olympics have brought cheers for the athletes, but jeers for the host country’s state-sponsored discrimination and other rights abuses,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “Only through long-term institutional reform of the Olympic Movement can similar human rights debacles be prevented at future Winter and Summer Games.”

In addition to calling on the IOC to amend its charter to include requirements that host countries do not have discriminatory laws in place and has a selection process that includes analysis of the country’s human rights record, the coalition urged the IOC to amend Principal 6 of the Olympic Charter to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Charter currently states: “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.”

The coalition also urged that future host city contracts include “specific human rights pledges and a commitment not to introduce laws of policies that violate human rights law before the Games.”

While the Olympic Games have already ended in Sochi, the IOC has an extensive opportunity to institutionally strengthen its commitment to the human rights of LGBT people in future Games.

For more information on Russia and to learn what you can do, visit www.hrc.org/Russia.

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