Sport

Commonwealth Games would consider boycotting countries that persecute LGBT+ people

SJ Zhang December 8, 2021
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Tom Daley after winning the Men's 10m Syncro Platform with Daniel Goodfellow during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. (Ian MacNicol/Getty)

The Commonwealth Games Federation is considering a wide range of measures to make the Commonwealth Games more inclusive for LGBT+ athlete.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Katie Sadleir, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), has said that she wants to hear athletes’ views on whether future Commonwealth Games should be held in countries with discriminatory laws against the LGBT+ community.

“We’re very open to them in terms of what our next steps are, in terms of understanding our hosting strategy and where we go in terms of our meetings.”

“But this is the beginning, and I’m looking forward to hearing about what more we should be doing as a movement.”

At next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, LGBT+ athletes may be able to fly the flag on the podium. These considerations are part of the Commonwealth Games’ efforts to become more inclusive, Sadleir said.

Such a move would follow the decision of the International Olympic Committee earlier this year to relax restrictions to allow athletes to “express their views” before and after taking part in games, but not during events and victory ceremonies.

“We are absolutely embracing that people can have freedom of expression,” Sadleir, the first female chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, told the BBC.

Tom Daley, who won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, recently spoke about boycotting anti-LGBT+ countries for major sporting events.

He would go further than denying them hosting rights, telling the 2021 Attitude Awards: “I want to make it my mission over the next, well, hopefully before the Paris Olympics in 2024, to make it so that the countries criminalise and [where it’s] punishable by death for LGBT people are not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.”

He’s one of many who have also spoken out against the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar.

PinkNews spoke to Neil Basterfield, the co-founder of Pride House about the news. Pride House is a venue which welcomes LGBT+ athletes, fans and allies during international sporting events, supported by the Games.

Neil told PinkNews: “We welcome the inclusion of the voices of all LGBTIQ+ people, including athletes, coaches and other LGBTIQ+ people in sport in decisions regarding the future locations of the Commonwealth Games, and particularly of those LGBTIQ+ people in the countries with laws discriminating against them.”

Sandleir’s comments come with the launch of the Commonwealth Sports Pride Network (CSPN), an initiative which will bring together LGBT+ athletes, coaches and organisers from Commonwealth nations, including countries where LGBT+ communities face persecution.

The network hopes to create a safe space for LGBT+ people in sports, and provide a platform to champion LGBT+ acceptance and equality throughout the Commonwealth.

“This is not a political movement, but an opportunity to champion inclusion and tell stories in a positive way.” Dame Louise Martin, president of the CGF, has explained.

The launch of CSPN has been welcomed by LGBQ+ athletes and allies, including Michael Gunning, an openly gay Jamaican swimmer, who helped to establish the network.

Speaking about the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games, Neil from Pride House added: “Pride House Birmingham will welcome LGBTIQ+ spectators, athletes and allies during the 2022 Commonwealth Games and aims to shine a spotlight on LGBTIQ+ human rights across the Commonwealth both before, during and after the Games.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games are set to take place between 28 July and 8 August 2022 in Birmingham.

More: Commonwealth Games

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