The 2012 Olympics are the first Olympic Games ever to include
women in every competing country's team. Much of the TV Olympics
coverage has been dedicated to celebrating women's achievements and
Jessica Ennis has been celebrated as the UK's 'Face of the Games,'
so it wouldn't be outlandish to consider this year's Olympics to be
a good example of equality in action.
Sadly, this is not in fact the case, as protesters from the Peter
Tachell Foundation have found. Sexism, homophobia and transphobia
are still rife throughout the Olympic Games, and despite there
being sections of the Olympic Charter in place to prohibit
discrimination on the grounds of gender or sexuality, they are not
"In more than 150 countries, lesbian athletes have to hide their
sexuality to get selected for their country's Olympic squad;
otherwise they risk not only non-selection but also losing their
job, eviction from their home, police harassment and possibly
imprisonment," says Peter Tachell, President of the Peter Tachell
"In the absence of laws against homophobic discrimination,
victimisation and bias against lesbian athletes is endemic in most
competing nations. The IOC's failure to ensure that participating
nations comply with the equality clauses of the Olympic Charter has
resulted in an Olympics that is not a level playing field - and is
far from equal,"
In order to tackle this, on 22 July the Foundation held a protest
outside the Olympic Headquarters in London, urging the
International Olympic Comitte (IOC) to reconsider their lax stance
on homophobia and prejudice during the Games. They brought with
them a letter requesting several changes that need to be made.
All competing nations should be required to sign a pledge that
they do not discriminate in sport on the grounds of gender,
ethnicity, religion/belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.
If they refuse to sign, they should be denied participation in the
Jacque Rogge and Lord Coe (from the IOC) should make a public
statement which welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(LGBT) athletes to London 2012 and that participating nations must
not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender
In addition to this, on 3 August, an appeal signed by 880 people
was presented to the IOC President Jacques Rogge for gender
equality at the Olympics.
"The government of Saudi Arabia restricts women's participation in
sport and requires women athletes to be accompanied by male
guardians. Iran has gender segregation in sport and forces women
athletes to entirely cover their bodies, even if they do not wish
to do so," said Mr Tachell.
Also, sadly, despite this year being the first year 'all
countries' have women athletes competing, Saudi Arabia's Government
provides little to no sports facilities for women, and instead
chose to select only two token women athletes to compete, neither
of which actually live in Saudi Arabia.
Peter Tachell continued: "Sport should have no boundaries or
exclusions. There should be a level-playing field for all
competitors, regardless of their background. Any country that
discriminates in sport against women or ethnic, religious or sexual
minorities should be disqualified from the 2012 Olympics."
The Peter Tachell Foundation's campaign for equality will be
carried through to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. Let's
hope by then the IOC will fully enforce the entire Olympic Charter,
leaving all women of every race and orientation a fair chance to
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