The International Olympic Committee says it is “fully satisfied” that Russia’s law against gay “propaganda” does not violate the anti-discrimination guarantees of the Olympic charter.
IOC chairman — and famed Olympic skier — Jean-Claude Killy, at a press conference earlier on Sept. 26, said that the committee had concluded that “the IOC doesn’t have the right to discuss the ... laws that are in place in the country hosting the games” unless the Olympic charter is clearly violated.
The announcement led the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights group, to say the IOC had abandoned LGBT Russians and athletes ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Russia has a law, signed by President Vladimir Putin, that says support for LGBT people and treating same-sex relationships as normal can result in criminal prosecution – for citizens and visitors to the country.
The law, as well as one against foreign same-sex couples adopting children in Russia, has fueled a boycott of Russian products, as well as calls for a boycott of the Sochi games and corporate sponsors.
In Russia, the law has fueled violence against LGBT people, especially young people.
The IOC announcement comes a day after Russian authorities arrested LGBT activists in the country for protesting outside the headquarters for the Sochi games.
“If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a news release issued Sept. 26. “The safety of millions of LGBT Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completed neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world. The IOC and its new president, Thomas Bach, are putting the good reputation of the Olympic Games and its corporate sponsors in jeopardy.”
Griffin emphasized that the Olympic charter states, “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”