The new president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach has refused a request to meet with Russian LGBT activists during his tour of the country less this week but said he’s willing to host a conversation with them at the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland at a later date.
LGBT activists in Russia initially sent an email requesting a meeting with Bach to the IOC October 13, then sent a formal letter October 22. It was only today that Bach replied stalling the conversation and moving it out of the country of Russia where many of the activists would not have the freedom or funds to travel to.
“LGBT activists in Russia see this decision as yet another indicator that the Sochi Olympics are far from being a platform to uphold and promote the Olympic values,” said Anastasia Smirnova, coordinator and spokeswoman for the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, a member group of the Federation of Gay Games. “It is now impossible to imagine an inclusive event where rights and human dignity of all are respected. The law on ‘propaganda’ is degrading in its nature, suggesting that LGBT people are dangerous to children, families, and society, and that it is the responsibility of the authorities to protect other citizens from us. It is crucial to discuss and define concretely how implementation of the non-discrimination principles will be ensured in such climate. The refusal by Thomas Bach to meet with LGBT organizations in Sochi is disappointing”
At a press event in Moscow while Bach was meeting with other groups he stated: All visitors travelling to Sochi for the Games regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation will be welcomed here equally – this has been made very clear by the Russian authorities,” said President Bach. “The Games themselves are open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media, and, of course, athletes. This is a principal pillar of the Olympic Movement that will be upheld in Sochi.”
Yeah. Good luck with that.