Members of All Out at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland
A petition, signed by over 322,000 people and calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, has been delivered to the organisation.
On Wednesday, more than 50 members of the All Out activism and petition website presented the IOC with the petition at its headquarters in Switzerland.
They also delivered a letter from openly gay British actor Stephen Fry, as well as thousands of signatures from Athlete Ally members and former Olympians including Greg Louganis, a four-time Olympic Gold medallist.
All Out said that the IOC’s director of communications accepted the massive petition, listened to their concerns and announced that the Olympic Committee has now asked for the Russian government to state in writing that no athletes or visitors will be persecuted because they are gay.
“We hope the International Olympic Committee responds to All Out’s members and the millions of people worldwide who want Russia to treat all of their citizens with dignity under the law,” said Anastasia Smirnova, from the Russian LGBT Network.
“Unless the anti-gay laws are repealed now, after Sochi Russians will be left with a government ready to punish people simply because of who they are or who they love. We continue our call for world leaders, including the IOC, to speak out now before it is too late.”
As the February 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi approaches, the IOC is under increasing pressure to more actively address the country’s new gay propaganda law, which affects ordinary LGBTI Russians and could impact on LGBTI athletes and visitors at the Games.
There have been conflicting statements by Russian officials on whether the law will be enforced during the Olympics, and some activist groups have called for a boycott of the event.
Under the law, foreigners who show any support for LGBTI people in public will not only be fined but also face arrest and up to 15 days in jail, followed by eventual deportation.