Post submitted by Kerry Brodie, former HRC Global Press Secretary

Today the HRC, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, called the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) vote to add sexual orientation non-discrimination protections encouraging, but is concerned that the IOC’s policy for transgender athletes still lags. HRC calls on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to pass a more inclusive non-discrimination policy during the IOC Executive Board Meeting and 127th IOC Session in Monaco this week.  

“It should go without saying that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is not compatible with the ideals of the Olympic movement,” explained Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “And without explicit protections for LGBT people, the IOC allowed Russia, with its draconian anti-LGBT laws, to host this prestigious event. Even though the IOC has now taken an important first step, more needs to be done to ensure that in future games, all people are respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The IOC’s policy for transgender athletes, passed in 2003, makes requirements of transgender athletes inconsistent with medical guidelines and banned by law in many countries – such as legal recognition of their gender identity. More modern approaches are available as a model, including the 2011 guidelines adopted by the NCAA.

In the aftermath of the Sochi Olympics, HRC joined more than 30 other human rights organizations in a letter to the 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. Institutional changes to the IOC’s discrimination policy would help ensure that countries with these types of laws will no longer be given the honor of hosting the Olympics.

In November IOC President Thomas Bach released a “Strategic Roadmap,” which lists 40 policy change recommendations. He urged “the IOC to include non-discrimination on sexual orientation in the 6th Fundamental Principle of Olympism.” However, this recommendation does not go far enough. Without protecting people from discrimination based on their gender identity, the principle ignores an important vulnerable community.

Adding protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity are necessary in order for the IOC to live up the goal of the Olympic movement to build “a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sports practices in accordance with Olympism and its values.” 

Filed under: International, Transgender

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