MONACO — The International Olympic Committee approved a wide-ranging reform package Monday that includes rewording of its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation – a move that followed the controversy over Russia‘s law against gay “propaganda” ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In an unanimous vote, the IOC members approved a recommendation that one its fundamental principles, the Principle 6 clause, to state that the Olympics should be free of discrimination “of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
The language also will be included in the host city contract between the IOC and future Olympic Games hosts.
“There is no greater sign of progress in combating homophobia in sports than to have the oldest organized athletic competition in the history of the world saying enough is enough,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of gay rights group Athlete Ally, in a statement Monday.
“The International Olympic Committee took a major step today recognizing that the practice of sport is a human right and that every individual must be able to practice without discrimination,” said Taylor.
“This is a pivotal moment for equality in sport,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of the international gay rights group All Out.
The first challenges under the new Principle 6 clause could involve the 2022 Winter Olympic host finalists, Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Neither country has any specific anti-gay legislation, yet LGBT individuals often face discrimination and harassment in both countries, and there have been recent efforts in Kazakhstan to adopt anti-gay laws similar to those enacted in Russia.
The IOC also approved a more affordable bidding process, creation of an Olympic television channel and a more flexible sports program that could bring baseball and softball into the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The IOC voted in favor of the new rules on the opening day of a special session to adopt President Thomas Bach’s 40-point “Olympic Agenda 2020” program, the biggest changes in the IOC in decades.