Last month, US Olympic freestyle skier and silver medalist at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Gus Kenworthy came out of the closet at an ESPN interview. Reading the news about his coming out had me wondering where the LGBT rights currently stand at the Olympics.
The changes in regards to LGBT rights has been gradual in the Olympics history. If problems arise, it is largely due to the reluctance of acceptance in part of the host country on the LGBT community, rather than the unwillingness for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make changes.
In fact, Pride House was established starting from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics as an open house for LGBT supporting visitors, athletes and staffs to visit. Pride House is a temporary location often present near the Olympics venue that plays host to LGBT athletes, volunteers and visitors. Starting from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Pride Houses were present in various other sporting events.
It could be said that the debate on LGBT rights in the Olympics was very minimal prior to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. However, as the LGBT rights in host country Russia is not so forgiving, this clashed with the general harmony the Olympics have long achieved.
In response to such differences, Principle 6 Campaign was launched to call for the forbiddance of “discrimination of race, religion, politics, gender or other wise.” It was a campaign supported globally to fight for non-discrimination.
With the continuing clash, the IOC has made its move and added “sexual orientation” as one of the anti-discriminatory languages of the Olympic Charter.
Number 6 of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism now reads,
“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, proptery, birth or other status.”
Through the changes seen in Sochi 2014, it could thus be seen as an important Olympic event that helped secure non-discrimination for all members participating in the Olympics.
Such change is an important step in ensuring the safety of the athletes, staff and audience participating in future Olympic Summer and Winter Games. It allows all participants the equal rights to enjoy and participate in the Olympics with no discrimination.
The changes in the wording of the Olympic Charter may seem trivial for some, but for Gus Kenworthy and countless other athletes who have or have not come out of the closet, the change assures that regardless of their sexual orientation, they are same Olympians as any others. And the change shows them that their identity should not be of any hindrance to their professional careers.
As stated in the Pride House International website, Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center has attended Sport Inclusion Summit hosted by Pride House, and is planning on opening Pride House Seoul during PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. This will be the first Pride House in Asia.
This article was written by an official college student reporter of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, WINNERS.
Some contents might be different from the official position of the Organizing Committee.