Last Tuesday nineteen members of the United States Congress wrote to the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach requesting he re-write Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter so that it explicitly opposes discrimination based on gender and sexual preference.
Penned as a response to the problems LGBT athletes and spectators experienced during the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year, the letter questions whether the IOC did enough to defend LGBTs from Russia’s homophobic legislation. In recent months Russian premier Vladimir Putin has signed laws outlawing ‘the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ and banning gay people from adopting children. During the Sochi Games, the Russian police harassed and detained numerous gay activists, prompting international condemnation.
The bipartisan signatories of the letter were led by the Republican Representative Ileanas Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Representative David Cicilline. Other LGBT Congress members who signed include Mark Pocan, Michael Michaud and Mark Takano.
The Representatives have called for the IOC to place the issue of LGBT rights top of the agenda at its summit in Monaco this December. “While we understand that politics are not a component of the Olympic Games,” the letter reads, “we believe amending Principle 6 to further uphold the ideals of non-discrimination will illustrate how the Olympic Games achieve their fundamental principle of ‘plac[ing] sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind …”
This letter has been seen as a clear sign that, although the Sochi Games have finished, international concerns remain about the IOC’s commitment to LGBT rights.