News (World)

Russia persuaded to alter ‘Olympic Truce’ to preclude anti-LGBT discrimination

NEW YORK — Following lengthy negotiations with United Nation representatives, Russian diplomats have reworded Russia’s version of the symbolic “Olympic Truce” statement to include wording that would preclude anti-gay discrimination.

The “Truce” is a perfunctory statement that pays homage to the ancient Greek principles and origins of the Olympic Games, and is adopted by the United Nations every two years.

APOlympic rings for the 2014 Winter Olympics installed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.
Olympic rings for the 2014 Winter Olympics installed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.

Normally a symbolic and non-controversial resolution by the world body, this year’s “Olympic Truce” sparked a firestorm of criticism over Russia’s exclusion of sexual orientation. The proposed draft only mentioned “people of different age, sex, physical capacity, religion, race and social status.”

The New York Times reported Saturday that UN representatives from around the world spent weeks pushing Russia to amend the language to include sexual orientation, according to interviews with representatives from eight countries.

This week, after extensive negotiations behind the scenes, Russia altered the truce’s language to say that it would “promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.”

The omission of mentioning gay or transgender people has been a sensitive subject given the recent law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” signed into law in June by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

While Russian officials have maintained that the law won’t affect athletes or other visitors coming to the country for the Olympics, human rights and LGBT activists have held protests, many calling for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Games, claiming that Russian promises are disingenuous at best.

The Olympic Truce doesn’t usually explicitly mention gay rights, and past truces, including the one that the United Kingdom sponsored for the 2012 London Olympics, did not mention gay or transgender people. But this year, with global attention focused on the issue, many nations are aiming to set a precedent of inclusion.

The resolution is largely a good-will gesture that calls for a worldwide truce during the Olympic Games to ensure the safe passage of athletes and guests, and for the global community to replace the “cycle of conflict” with “friendly athletic competition.”

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