Russia and Egypt Attempt to Attack Sexual Orientation Protections for 2018 Olympic Games

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(EDGE) Over the next two weeks a decision will be made at the United Nations (UN) on whether governments globally will accept discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

While the UN General Assembly cannot remove the ban on discrimination from Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter itself, Egypt and Russia are leading a stealth attack on the Olympics at the UN General Assembly that is laden with meaning and must be stopped.

Every two years, member states of the UN General Assembly negotiate the "Olympic Truce Resolution," which calls for peace among nations during the Olympics and the one week preceding and one week following the games. Since 2015, Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter has banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Now, Russia and Egypt are aggressively trying to remove all reference to Principle 6 from this year's Olympic Truce Resolution.

"Egypt and Russia are not simply fighting over symbolic language but over the levels of violence governments are allowed to use against LGBT people," said Jessica Stern, Executive Director at OutRight Action International "After systematic attacks on LGBT people in their own countries, they are now setting their sights on promoting violence and discrimination in every country of the world. The Olympics Games are supposed to be a time for sport, technique, pride and community, not for politicking, hatred and violence."

In recent weeks, Egyptian authorities have arrested 60 people perceived to be members of the LGBT community, and last week, a member of parliament introduced a bill that would criminalize life, speech, and activism for LGBT Egyptians and their allies. In recent months, the Russian government has turned a blind eye to the one hundred-plus gay men in Chechnya arbitrarily arrested and tortured.

In the back rooms of the UN Headquarters over the last two weeks, Russia and Egypt have proposed an ultimatum: Remove explicit reference to Principle 6, or they will not sign the Truce. Their ultimatum has put South Korea, leader of the negotiations as the 2018 Olympics host, in a precarious and difficult position.

"Russia and Egypt are known anti-LGBTI campaigners at the UN, and they are prepared to sacrifice the Olympic spirit to do it," Stern said. "We cannot allow this type of bullying to target LGBT people or undermine the principle of global community."


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