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Official: Reports that IOC will punish athletes for wearing pride pins are untrue

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A high ranking official with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told LGBTQ Nation on Wednesday that published reports that the IOC would punish LGBT athletes or allies for acts such as wearing pride pins or holding hands, are “misleading” and “mischaracterized.”

The IOC official, who agreed to talk with LGBTQ Nation on the condition of anonymity, said that the IOC was not prepared to walk “lock-step” with the Russian law against “homosexual propaganda,” but rather apply a common sense approach for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Ignat Kozlov, AP
Olympic rings for the 2014 Winter Olympics installed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, in southern Russia.

When specifically asked if this meant that Olympians, LGBT or otherwise, would be penalized for acts such as wearing pride pins or articles of clothing indicating support for the LGBT community, the official said “absolutely not.”

The IOC, is however, intent on preventing incidents of “political grandstanding,” in accordance with Rule 50 of the IOC’s charter, the official said.

That rule mandates “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

The official said that Rule 50 applies to “egregious” behavior, and that a protest or demonstration from the podium, such as an athlete openly denouncing the Russian Government or an impromptu display during an event or the opening or closing ceremonies, would be seen as a violation of the rule.

Rule 50 has been “mischaracterized” by the activist community and makes no mention of pride pins, the official said.

LGBTQ Nation also confirmed from two Olympic officials that, to date, there has been no advisement or directive warning Olympians from wearing pride pins, arm bands or any other display of LGBT solidarity, and that the IOC has never asserted that it plans to take action against athletes for doing so.

Regardless, the officiaal said, any incidents would be evaluated on an case by case basis and that a “sensible approach” would be taken “depending on what was said or done.”

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The official noted, however, that the IOC has no say or control over a host country’s laws and always advises athletes and teams to respect each host nation’s laws.

The anti-gay “propaganda” law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 29, prohibits anyone from distributing information with the “intention” of persuading minors that nontraditional sexual relationships are “attractive” or “interesting,” or even “socially equivalent to traditional relationships.”

The law does not outlaw gay sex, which was legalized in Russia in 1993, and does not explicitly ban participation in gay pride parades or promotion of LGBT equality online, however, anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for example, could be accused of propagandizing.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has said foreign athletes would be expected “to respect the laws of the country,” and the Interior Ministry, which controls the state police force, said Monday the anti-gay law will be enforced during the Olympics.

However, enforcement of the law within the Olympic village and its venues, for simple acts such as holding hands or wearing pride pins, is unlikely, according to the IOC official, but he did caution that such acts could be viewed as a violation of the law on the streets of Sochi.

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46 more reader comments:

  1. gee how “noble”…prejudiced jerks….

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:33pm
  2. How generous. Thanks for your charity, IOC.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:35pm
  3. Wow. What a teachable moment this is for us.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:35pm
  4. Why should they be punished for assholes they have rights

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:36pm
  5. yeah, but they will still be arrested!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:36pm
  6. It seems fair enough to me. The IOC has no control over Russian politics or laws, and it is best not to antagonize the government during the games. I thing that the whole world needs to remember that the games are a symbol of world wide unity and should not be over shadowed by one governments pig-headed and blatant bigotry. Lets just hope all runs smoothly for the atheletes, LGBT or not.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:37pm
  7. they need to make up their mind

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:39pm
  8. The IOC has already spinelessly gone back and forth on this. While I support the athletes, I won´t be watching unless they move the games.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:39pm
  9. oh, just pins? thats so gracious of you IOC, you pieces of dog shit.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:41pm
  10. Not good enough. The IOC has to make it clear to Russia that they have a simple choice: repeal the anti-gay “propaganda” law, or lose the Olympic games.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:41pm
  11. Gee how generous

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:42pm
  12. boycott going back and forth trying to confuse us is a shameless ploy.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:43pm
  13. We all need to boycott the games. That means, not watching tv. Point.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:44pm
  14. But they will let the Russian police arrest you for doing so.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:44pm
  15. he IOC may not punish the athletes … but Russia might

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:47pm
  16. Well gee, thanks IOC

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:49pm
  17. Yeah, need guarantees from Russia they won´t be arrested if they wore pride pins?

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:49pm
  18. despite the sarcasm of some commenters here, the message here isn´t that the IOC is being “generous,” it´s that they never said they planned to punish athletes to begin with.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:50pm
  19. It´s time to show Russia and IOC that the right of gay´s are more important then any games. It time to more the games or boycott them.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:51pm
  20. If everyone would stop watching the Olympics, they might change the way the organization is conducted. It´s nothing but an overblown, commercialized, and ridiculously hyped-up political enterprise.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:51pm
  21. How good of them!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:52pm
  22. This is the Olympic.committee compromise…. (We´ll make u protest pins and we don´t want to hear about it again!) This is stalling.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:55pm
  23. While the Olympics represents the whole of the world, and pursues unity – Russia does not. Russia is persecuting the LGBT community, of which many from around the world are going to be in the Olympics, or watching the Olympics (well, maybe not).

    If the IOC would get their heads out of their asses and see that any sort of violation of human rights in a hosting country is flat out WRONG, perhaps there wouldn´t be a boycott.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 11:57pm
  24. The IOC has punished nations in the past due to their bigotry towards segments of their own society–perfect example being apartheid. South Africa was banned for decades for their bigotry. IOC has more power then people realize. It would be fitting for the IOC to ban Russia from the games.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:03am
  25. Wow… Great job IOC… NOT!!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:03am
  26. For all of you who are up in arms about screaming BOYCOTT and how we should not watch the Olympics unless they move them etc … Please, explain to me again how much better it is to be gay in THIS country? OK, so I can´t be arrested but my marriage is only recognized in a handful of states, the federal government doesn´t recognize it … if my wife were to become ill, I have absolutely ZERO rights to be at her bedside if the hospital bars me from making health care decisions for her that we have discussed … I cannot openly hold her hand (note: I´m not talking about making out with her in some obnoxious PDA) without getting sidelong glances, whispered commentary and open hostility. I went into a restaurant and was all but ignored by the waitstaff because of my sexuality. Every day, people are bullied, committing suicide and being beaten up just because we are gay. But, please … by all means … go pour vodka into the streets and talk about boycotting the Olympic games to make a statement about how much better it is to be Gay in America.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:06am
  27. It´s not a question of the potential actions of the russian government, but of the unregulated citizens who choose to act upon the laws.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:06am
  28. The Olympics need a change of venue, Period.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:09am
  29. Doesn´t matter. I´m still boycotting the Olympics.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:13am
  30. A bit of good news; Canada has decided to grant asylum to russian LGBT people.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:14am
  31. It this case then the IOC needs to be boycotted as well as the actual games. We need to stop funding to the IOC and stop private donations. The IOC is hurting the actual athletes but not standing for justice against oppression.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 1:03am
  32. Translation: If they decide to arrest you for holding hands in the Olympic Village, too bad for you.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 1:07am
  33. Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 1:22am
  34. So stupid

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 1:26am
  35. One day it´s we aren´t, next we are – the IOC has lost any respect I ever had for it.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 2:07am
  36. I love how gay people say Im nieve, then they go and believe the lies ! Your so hypocritical and stupid, its amazing !

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 2:41am
  37. If they hurt gay people, they are just going to say another lie and get away with it. If you dont let the demons put you in a situation that they cant hurt you, then they cant ! You really believe the demons are going to have the honor not to do something bad ?!

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 2:43am
  38. I DON´T TRUST THEM.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 3:46am
  39. if you think anybody showing support for the GLBTQ community is going to be safe from harm there, youre wrong and misguiding people. Putin has already stated the opposite.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:08am
  40. This is so sad. The IOC is supposed to protect the athletes not threaten them with the same discrimination that Russia is proudly shouting to the world. Our athletes have trained their entire live for this event, and to have it tainted by such hate, intolerance, and discrimination, is sad to me. I will not be watching the games.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 10:39am
  41. How generous of you….. sarcasm off….

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 12:54pm
  42. I do not trust Russia when it comes to Human Rights.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 5:50pm
  43. The IOC are a bunch of lying corrupt hypocrites by trying to force gay athletes to deny who they are or any supporter of gay rights
    They are been dictated too by President Putin & his bunch of tyrants,not only should the games be moved to a safer country where a persons sexual orientation isn´t an issue & where in the Olympic charter doesn´t it say that all athletes should be treat equally regardless of gender or sexual orientation & free from discrimination ?
    I´m sure we´ll see proper protests from athletes which will make them a target for physical abuse from the Russian government & their crocked armies or the secret police
    Lets hope the IOC is ready to be taken to the court of human rights for failing to protect the cream of world class athletes should something happen

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:18pm
  44. The IOC should get their heads out of their asses and stand up for what they know is the RIGHT thing to do!!! Pull the Olympics out of Sochi!!! Why put our fellow countrymen and Athletes in harms way?! mark my workds! IT IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN!!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:41pm
  45. to be on the safe side they need to not go to Russia at all change the location. This is just sick , sick!

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:44pm
  46. the IOC will support the KILL THE GAYS BILL IN UGANDA, if they pay them money.

    Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:51pm