Former NBA star John Amaechi: Isolating anti-gay countries from Commonwealth Games won’t help equality
Retired basketball star John Amaechi has warned against “isolating” countries with anti-gay laws, saying that events like the Commonwealth Games should be use to argue for equality.
The English campaigner, who came out as gay in 2007, was speaking ahead of the launch of the Games in Glasgow.
42 of the 53 Commonwealth member countries currently criminalise homosexuality, with penalties up to life imprisonment in at least seven member states.
He told InsideTheGames: “It doesn’t take a genius to realise that some countries fail when it comes to Article Seven, that some fail to live up to the principles of sport itself.
“Rather than just a scathing review, this is an opportunity to bring people together and help them understand how diversity, inclusion and equality are not simply window dressing.
“Nothing can change if people remain blind to the truth.
“Someone might say, ‘This is a violation of the spirit and the world of the principles of the Games’.
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“But, instead of isolating 42 of the countries, we say, ‘This is how we can we can help bring you into line’.
“When you create coalitions who are willing that is the only way you will ever see change happening.”
Campaigner Peter Tatchell held a rally outside Downing Street earlier this week, calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to “publicly declare that anti-LGBT persecution is a violation of the Commonwealth Charter” ahead of the Games.
Earlier this week, it emerged that India’s top female sprinter, 18-year-old Dutee Chand, had been banned from competing in the Commonwealth Games because she naturally exhibits high testosterone levels.
Amaechi previously called on athletes to speak out about anti-gay laws in Russia during the Winter Olympics, saying that “silence in the face of attendance in Sochi is complicity.”
The Commonwealth Games are set to start on Wednesday.