Despite Sabotage Efforts By Russia And Egypt, U.N. Protects LGBT Rights At 2018 Olympics

"Two of the world's worst violators of LGBTQ human rights—are trying to spread their hatred and intolerance and undermine the Olympic spirit."

The U.N has voted to adopt the Olympic Truce Resolution with language prohibiting LGBT discrimination, despite efforts by Egypt and Russia to remove it.

Before each Games, the General Assembly passes the Olympic Truce Resolution, pledging to maintain peace and the Olympic spirit before and during the games. The resolution includes Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, committed to preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, among other criteria.

But as the 2018 Winter Games neared, Egypt and Russia attempted to remove all references to Principle 6.

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“Russia and Egypt, two of the world’s worst violators of LGBTQ human rights—are trying to spread their hatred and intolerance and undermine the Olympic spirit,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “This is not just a fight over words on a piece of paper, this is an attempt to spread their anti-LGBTQ views all around the world, and even into the Olympics, which are supposed to be about equality and inclusion.”

The attempts to remove Principle 6 came as attacks on LGBT citizens are escalating in both nations: After a rainbow flag was spotted at a concert in Cairo in September, Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown that has seen dozens of suspected homosexuals arrested and detained. In October, a bill was introduced in parliament to criminalize homosexuality and support for LGBT people.

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In Russia, senior officials have called for jail time for violators of the country’s infamous anti-gay propaganda ban. The government has also been criticized for turning a blind eye to the anti-gay purge in Chechnya.

“After systematic attacks on LGBT people in their own countries, they are now setting their sights on promoting violence and discrimination in every country of the world,” says OutRight International’s Jessica Stern. “The Olympics Games are supposed to be a time for sport, technique, pride and community, not for politicking, hatred and violence.”

Sexual-orientation protections were originally added before the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, after Russia instituted its gay ban. “We cannot allow this type of bullying to target LGBT people or undermine the principle of global community,” said Stern.

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Earlier this month the U.S., France, and Brazil blocked efforts by Egypt and Russia to remove non-discrimination language from the truce. At the same time, 17 out pro athletes—Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, and Greg Louganis, among them—signed an open letter calling for Principle 6 to be protected.

On Monday, November 13, all 193 UN Member States adopted the Olympic Truce Resolution with its non-discrimination language intact.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 9, 2018 to February 25, 2018. Plans are underway to house a Pride House at the Olympic Village there, the first in Asia.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.