Olympics Should Ban Countries Criminalizing Homosexuality, Claims Human Rights Lawyer
By Grace Oshiro - Crossmap On June 17, 2012
International Olympic Committee is receiving pressure to ban countries that criminalize homosexuality from participating in the upcoming summer Olympic games in London.
A famous British human rights lawyer, Mark Stephens, strongly insists that IOC must take an action in order to protect gay rights.
"The IOC needs to come out of the closet," Stephens told The Associated Press.
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"Sport for all means all -- irrespective of color, gender or sexual orientation. It's a matter of human dignity."
In a Guardian article, Stephens explained the process of gaining equality for different races and genders, arguing that there is nowhere that refers gay, lesbian and transgender rights "in the lists of the greatest Olympian moments."
"London 2012 will be the world's biggest sporting event, and the city has an opportunity to leave a lasting humanitarian legacy of LGBT rights," he wrote.
"It is entirely appropriate for the Olympics to be the forum for the promotion of LGBT rights."
"The true Olympic legacy is very different from the one sold to you by the IOC or the London organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games," Stephens went on, adding, "the games in Ancient Greece were homage to the physical relationships between men and the male body."
Despite the rapid growth of gay rights and social approval, there are around 75 countries that outlaw homosexuals, mostly located in Africa, the Caribbean and the Islamic world.
Homosexual acts are treated with the punishment of whipping in countries such as Maldives and Qatar.
Same-sex intercourse results in death penalty in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen.
Stephens is urging all homosexual athletes "to come out and make a visible, memorable, courageous gesture for LGBT rights."
He invited all LGBT athletes "who don't feel safe" to apply for asylum in UK. At the end to the IOC Committee, he implores to "ban countries where homosexuality is criminalized from competing in the Olympics."
Stephens' claim has been met with many criticisms. Some argue that using the Olympics as a platform to promote one human rights issue is improper, considering that it would illuminate the need to address other issues. Other criticisms include concerns over the violation of the event's motto "sports for all," which is meant to create unity among diversity through sports.
"The games would be badly depopulated if you exclude every government with a bad human rights record," Marianne Mollmann, a policy adviser with Amnesty International, told The Associated Press.
"But we certainly feel the IOC should be more vocal about these issues and bring them up actively with governments where it's clear there are serious violations."