Russian LGBT Organizations Meet Thomas Bach to Call for Informed Assurances of Non-Discrimination

Saturday, 30 November 2013 – Russian LGBT organizations called on the International Olympic Committee to obtain clarity from the Russian authorities about the implications of the national ‘anti-propaganda’ legislation.

At the meeting with the IOC President Thomas Bach that took place on Saturday in Paris, Russian LGBT activists voiced grave concerns over the vague assurances of non-discrimination at the Sochi games made both by the IOC and the Russian authorities. LGBT activists demanded that the IOC enquires into the specifics of the application of the ‘propaganda’ legislation and shares informed conclusions about the impact that the law has on the Olympic movement and the 2014 Winter Games.

Among the ambiguities that require clarification are questions about legality of rainbow pins in Russia, of positive references (both private and public) to same-sex partnerships, of reporting about the experiences of LGBT individuals in Russia and internationally, etc.

‘Only such investigation and communication of its results to the public will allow athletes, spectators, reporters, and everyone else involved in the Olympic movement to understand how their involvement will be influenced by the national legislation in the host country and how the Olympic principles of non-discrimination and respect of human dignity are upheld in Russia,’ – reads the letter that activists handed to Thomas Bach at the meeting.

‘It was a valuable conversation, and we delivered first-hand evidence that a clear and strong action is needed from the IOC to ensure respect of the Olympic principles at the Sochi Games,’ commented Anastasia Smirnova, spokeswoman for the Russian LGBT coalition. ‘We hope that the IOC will take a step further and enquires into the actual implications of the ‘propaganda’ law. Lack of clarity on this is conducive to the Games failing to uphold the Olympic Charter.’

The Russian LGBT Network, St Petersburg LGBT organization ‘Coming Out’, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Russian LGBT Sport Federation, Arkhangelsk LGBT organization ‘Rakurs’, and the Out Loud project formed the coalition with the purpose of ensuring that discrimination and violence against LGBT persons in Russia are not silenced in view of the Olympic games, that communities in Russia and the Olympic visitors are protected, and that the established Olympic principles of respect of human dignity and non-discrimination are upheld by the host country.

Full text of the written communication to Thomas Bach

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