Friday, 21 June 2013

Human Rights Watch writes to IOC - Russian Olympics

Human Rights Watch, based in New York, has written an open letter to the International Olympic Committee citing increasing concerns over Russia's new discriminatory anti-gay laws and the ability of Russia to hold the Olympic games itself. This thing is starting to snowball.....

Here is the letter in it's entirety, and here's a bit of it:
In this letter I would like to raise Human Rights Watch’s concerns about the homophobic draft law that is expected to pass in the Russian parliament’s upper chamber in the coming weeks. 

This draft law is clearly incompatible with the Olympic Charter’s promotion of “human dignity,” as well as a blatant violation of Russia’s international legal obligations to guarantee non-discrimination and respect for freedom of expression. 

We note in particular that under the Olympic Charter any form of discrimination against a person is deemed “incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement” (Fundamental Principle of Olympism no. 6)and that the IOC’s role is explicitly “to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement” (article 2(6) of the Charter). 

This letter sets out our detailed concerns and proposed action for the IOC. 


Both the pernicious legislation that is moving forward and the refusal by the authorities to register the organization “Olympic Pride House Sochi” are forms of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement and sharply at odds with commitments to non-discrimination under the Olympic Charter. They are also incompatible with Russia’s responsibilities to the Olympic Movement and the IOC as host of the Games. Although news reports this week quoted a spokesman saying that the IOC is “concerned” about the draft law being passed and reiterated the IOC’s “long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games,” we urge the IOC to take additional steps to send a clear signal to the Russian authorities that discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity is at sharply at odds with Russia’s human rights and Olympic commitments. 

We also encourage you to obtain guarantees from the Russian authorities that no homophobic legislation will be adopted or implemented and that the authorities will refrain from any additional discriminatory legislative initiatives or policies that discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender people. We also urge you to press the authorities to state publicly that, as Olympic Host, Russia will ensure, without distinction, the safety and the freedom of expression and association of all athletes, coaches, fans, and others who will attend the Sochi Games. 

Finally, we feel that a press release or other clear public statement from the IOC itself regarding the IOC’s support for LGBT rights and calling on Olympic hosts, including Russia, to demonstrate equal and unequivocal support in word and in practice would be key in pressing Russia to reverse its discriminatory course. 

In light of these serious developments, we also reiterate our recommendation that the IOC establish a standing mechanism to establish human rights benchmarks among Olympic host countries and monitor human rights in the preparations for and during the Olympic Games. more  
That's pretty tough talk man.

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