Senators to IOC: Make Sure LGBTs Protected During Olympics


By Trudy Ring

Twelve senators question the International Olympic Committee on its reaction to Olympics host Russia's antigay law.

Twelve U.S. senators have sent a letter to the president of the International Olympic Committee taking issue with the IOC’s statement that members do not believe Russia’s “gay propaganda” law violates the Olympic charter’s antidiscrimination principles.

“We write to express our deep concern about the IOC’s recent declaration that ‘as long as the Olympic Charter is upheld, we are fully satisfied,’” the letter to IOC president Thomas Bach, dated Friday, reads in part. “We disagree with this position, and strongly urge you to reconsider given that the Russian law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ is clearly inconsistent with the Olympic Charter.”

The Russian law, adopted over the summer, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” in any forum accessible to minors, essentially banning any positive discussion of LGBT issues or identities. The law has been much discussed in light of the fact that the Russian city of Sochi will host the Winter Olympics and Paralympics next year.

The letter urges the IOC to seek assurances that LGBT athletes and spectators will be protected during the games. “The IOC has a responsibility to ensure that the values of Olympism are upheld and, as the Olympic Charter states, ‘act against any form of discrimination’ — including equal rights for LGBT individuals,” the letter reads. “This is not an issue of politics; it is an issue of fundamental human rights.”

The letter is signed by senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Barbara Boxer of California, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Al Franken of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Mark Udall of Colorado. Murkowski is the lone Republican; the rest are Democrats. Murphy chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs.

Read the full text on the next page.