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At IOC assembly, UN chief condemns attacks, discrimination against gays

Thursday, February 6, 2014
 David Goldman, APUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moo, addresses the IOC general assembly ahead of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. It was the first time a U.N. secretary-general delivered a keynote address to the IOC's general assembly.

David Goldman, AP
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moo, addresses the IOC general assembly ahead of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. It was the first time a U.N. secretary-general delivered a keynote address to the IOC’s general assembly.

SOCHI, Russia — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned attacks and discrimination against homosexuals on Thursday, touching on the gay rights issue in Russia that has overshadowed preparations for the Sochi Olympics.

In a speech to the IOC a day before the opening of the games, Ban also reiterated his call for warring parties around the world to lay down their arms during the Olympics.

Ban said many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice and discrimination.

David Goldman, APUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, is handed an Olympic torch by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

David Goldman, AP
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, is handed an Olympic torch by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

David Goldman, APInternational Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, second from left, opens the IOC's general assembly at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

David Goldman, AP
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, second from left, opens the IOC’s general assembly at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

“We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people,” he said. “We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face.”

Ban’s remarks came at a time when activists and protesters have stepped up their campaign against Russia’s law restricting gay rights activities.

Human Rights Watch posted a video this week on YouTube of gay people in Russia being bullied, chased and beaten, compiled from footage the group said was uploaded by perpetrators.

“Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century,” Ban said.

The U.N. chief noted that Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter enshrines the IOC’s opposition to any form of discrimination.

“The Olympics show the power of sport to bring together individuals regardless of age, race, class, religion, ability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ban said.

Protesters in cities around the world targeted major Olympic sponsors Wednesday, urging them to speak out against the Russian law.

The law, signed in July by President Vladimir Putin, outlaws pro-gay “propaganda” that could be accessible to minors. Critics say it is so restrictive and vague that it deters almost any public expression of support for gay rights.

“I know that there has been some controversy over this issue,” Ban told reporters after his speech. “At the same time, I appreciate President Putin for his assurance that there will be no discrimination whatsoever and the people with different sexual orientation are welcome to compete and enjoy this Olympic Games.”

“I hope that this Olympics will be the venue where all the people, regardless of sexual orientation, LGBT and all of these people will really be able to enjoy the harmony and friendship, mutual respect and compete in the spirit of the Olympic movement,” he added.

IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly said that Putin has given assurances that there will be no discrimination of any kind at the games.

“I can assure you the International Olympic Committee has undertook everything and we have all the assurances that the Olympic Charter will be fully applied in this Olympic Games, including the fundamentals of Principle 6, because this is what sport is standing for,” Bach said to Ban.

“It is standing for respect and it is standing against any form of discrimination.”

In his speech, Ban commended Putin for his “commitment to peace, unity and development through sport.”

Ban’s visit to Sochi comes after several world leaders decided to skip the games, including U.S. President Barack Obama, German President Joachim Gauck and French President Francois Hollande.

Ban reiterated his call for observance of an “Olympic Truce” during the Sochi Games.

“I repeat my call for all warring parties to lay down their weapons during the games – and to lift their sights to the promise of peace,” he said.

Ban cited conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

He said a truce “can enable life-saving humanitarian relief to reach suffering people and create an opening to lasting peace.”

Athletes, he said, send a message that people and nations can put aside their differences.

“If they can do that in Sochi’s sporting arenas, leaders of fighters should do the same in the world’s combat areas,” he said.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in November calling for a global truce during the Olympics, which run until Feb. 23, and the Paralympics from March 7-16.

The resolution cites ancient Greece’s traditional Olympic truce period that allowed free passage of athletes and spectators from often-warring city-states to the original games every four years.

The 193-member world body has passed resolutions since 1993 calling for an Olympic truce, but countries continue fighting wars whether the Olympics are on or not.

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41 more reader comments:

  1. Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:20am
  2. Thx, dear LGBTQ Nation. Shared

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:28am
  3. Good. It’s obvious the IOC has too much money riding on this to give a crap.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:30am
  4. I will not support the Olympics in Russia. Very rightly, any country that strives for peace should withdraw immediately. This is an absolute travesty of modern opinion and a complete failure of integrity and righteousness on humanity.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:32am
  5. thats a good one kimberly i like that,it is a travesty of modern opinion.

    Replied on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:42am
  6. BRAVA, BRAVA, BRAVA to Kimberly Foster...

    Replied on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 3:27pm
  7. I agree with you.

    Replied on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 3:40pm
  8. What a load of utter dribble! To say you stand for peace and equality and then commend the very man that stands against those ideals. What a load of bull pucky!

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:38am
  9. I just love Russia….

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:54am
  10. Let the sponsors know what you think and boycott their products. Cheer for the athletes who worked hard to get here.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 8:17am
  11. No the fight against the vile Russia and Putin for anti LGBT rights must continue until Russia comes into the 21st century.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 9:06am
  12. UN Deny the IOC license to exist. Shut them down and sue them for breaking their own bylaws.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 9:10am
  13. We all love Ban Ki Moon, especially as his name is surprisingly easy to pronounce!

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 9:42am
  14. Too little, too late.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:38am
  15. how very beurocratic of him

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:41am
  16. Bit late now, you hypocritical bastards. On your own heads be it.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:45am
  17. The IOC is equally guilty. They have supported Russia’s discrimination against gays just by allowing the events to continue on their soil. Further, they have warned everyone to ignore it or suffer punishment. This makes them just as dictatorial. It will bite the IOC in the azz. I fear something terrible is brewing. :(

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 11:03am
  18. Mr. Ban Ki-moon Could you do more than talk?

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 11:04am
  19. Too little too late ..

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 11:25am
  20. We Must ALL Unite against this Evil Brutality directed at our LGBT Brothers & Sisters.

    Shout about in Voice and Type, Stand on the streets with Banners and Do All You can do to Shout Out and Demand change for those who Need US More than Ever… It could be You ! X

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 11:58am
  21. Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 1:46pm
  22. Rightfully the U.N. Secretary !!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 3:11pm
  23. I believe it is a very sad example to set for the entire world that the IOC permitted Putin and Russia to continue their discrimination against Gay Men…it says a good deal of the IOC, but, but, but, on the other hand, not really any different than the Right Wing Christian Republican Party in America…WELCOME TO AMERICA…where Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness exists only for the heterosexual male…WELCOME TO AMERICA…………VOTE JOE BIDEN TO SAVE AMERICA AND KEEP AMERICA FREE…

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 3:25pm
  24. THEN CANCEL THE GAMES NOW!

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:19pm
  25. NICE

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:21pm
  26. Too little, too late…….

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:22pm
  27. It’s not too late – the UN strongly backs us and 100% disagrees with the IOC and Russia – this is a crippling blow to both.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:23pm
  28. The IOC wantss to do more with the UN this will be the slap in the face the IOC needs to go back to it's Olympics Values and don't allow countries like Russia, Qatar, Nigeria to host the games.

    Replied on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:33pm
  29. Russia just doesn’t care what the UN or the IOC has to say. Putin is going to do whatever he wants, no matter what people say.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:31pm
  30. russian government never cared about the UN since 1945 they are assholes and the world knows it

    Replied on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 5:03pm
  31. I’m confused … at the same time, he says, “I appreciate President Putin for his assurance that there will be no discrimination whatsoever…”
    We’ll see about that.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:33pm
  32. Better late than never, and it carried weight!
    I hope more countries decide not to participate. It’s unfair to athletes and sportspersons who have trained hard, but what about the hundreds of thousands that are being brutalised, shamed, humiliated, bullied and deprived of respect and dignity in Russia?

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:34pm
  33. hypocrites.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:58pm
  34. (y)

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 5:58pm
  35. People, follow the money. Where is it going? Into Putins pocket. He is laughing at us stupid suckers all the way to the bank.

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 6:13pm
  36. KEEP UP WITH THE BOYCOTT !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 6:41pm
  37. Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:54pm
  38. it s a small step

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:59pm
  39. THAT’S NOT ENOUGH, IT SHOULD BE CANCELLED!

    Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 4:44am
  40. I’ve shook /shaken his hand. BLAM

    Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 6:28am
  41. Wishy, washy-U.N. Hollow statements-weak-

    Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 6:43am