The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, will make future host cities sign anti-discrimination agreements as part of their deals to host the Olympics. The moves comes after 2014 Winter Olympics host Russia passed a law banning “gay propaganda” in the months leading up to the games.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the language being added to host city contracts is based on Principle 6 of the Olympic charter, which says any form of discrimination "is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement," according to a report in the Associated Press. Activist groups had long pressured the IOC to tackle Russian and other upcoming host countries' human rights failings.
Boris O. Dittrich, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Program, said in a June 2013 letter to IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper that Russia's anti-gay law was “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.”
International sporting bodies, facing public pressure, are increasingly having to take human rights into account when awarding major events. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is due to be held in Qatar, a country that considers homosexuality illegal. FIFA president Sepp Blatter attracted widespread criticism for flippant comments advising homosexuals to refrain from sexual contact if attending the 2022 tournament. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is due to be held in Russia, which also has laws that restrict gay rights.
"[This] sends a clear message to future host cities that human rights violations, including those against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, will not be tolerated," said Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of All Out, one of the groups that was prominent in the campaign against Russia’s anti-gay legislation, according to the Chicago Tribune.