The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the governing body of the Olympic Games, has announced it is “fully satisfied” that Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law does not violate the anti-discrimination guarantees of the Olympic charter.
IOC coordination committee chairman Jean-Claude Killy made the statement at a press conference on Thursday.
He dismissed concerns about the law by stating that the Russian authorities had promised that there would be “no segregation” at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games next year.
Killy added that the IOC “is not supposed to discuss the laws” of a host country unless the law deviates from the Olympic charter.
The announcement comes just one day after LGBT activists were arrested outside the headquarters of the Sochi Olympics organising committee—simply for holding posters protesting the law.
Killy’s comments were met with anger by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) head Chad Griffin. “If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless,” he argued.
“The safety of millions of LGBT Russians and international travellers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completed neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world,” said Griffin.
“The IOC and its new president, Thomas Bach, are putting the good reputation of the Olympic Games and its corporate sponsors in jeopardy.”
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.”
The IOC has yet to provide any written documentation of how the law can be enforced while still guaranteeing the safety of Olympic athletes and visitors, said the HRC.
“Today’s announcement will only increase the global pressure on the IOC and its corporate sponsors to act,” continued Griffin.
In June, the law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” was passed by Russia’s Federal Assembly and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. Under the guise of protecting children from “homosexual propaganda,” the law imposes fines or jail time to citizens who disseminate information that may cause a “distorted understanding” that LGBT and heterosexual relationships are “socially equivalent.” The fines are significantly higher if such information is distributed through the media or Internet.