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Kazakhstan Drops Proposed Anti-Gay Bill For Fear of Losing Olympic Host Bid

Kazakhstan Drops Proposed Anti-Gay Bill For Fear of Losing Olympic Host Bid


The news is being hailed as a major victory for human rights.

Photo courtesy of Almaty 2022 Candidate City

The Constitutional Court of Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, has ruled against a proposed anti-gay propaganda bill, similar to that in effect in Russia, after it became clear that adopting the law would threaten Kazakhstan's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Following the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) amended the Olympic Charter's Principle 6 to include "sexual orientation" among the list of possible bases for discrimination that would not be tolerated. This gave LGBT activitists grounds to petition against the IOC and Kazakhstan.

The organization Athlete Ally sent an open letter to IOC president Thomas Bach. Signed by gay Olympic champions and athletes, such as Greg Louganis, Martina Navratilova, Robbie Rogers, and Sean Avery, the document argued that:

"The Olympic movement is built upon the fundamental principles of respect and inclusion and the belief that the experiences of athletes and fans should be free from discrimination of any kind. As current and former Olympic, Paralympic, and professional athletes, we believe in the fundamental principles of Olympism and that maintaining the integrity of the Olympic movement requires potential host countries to abide by these Olympic ideals."

The letter went on to say:

"In light of Kazakhstan's aspirations to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and their recent consideration of legislation prohibiting 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation,' we urge the IOC to reiterate to Kazakh authorities that discrimination with regard to sexual orientation is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement."

"The IOC is in a unique position as the global leader in sport to communicate to the Kazakh authorities that no discriminatory legislation should be adopted or implemented."

The Constitutional Court ruled against the bill only days after the athletes' letter was sent. While the court's official reason for dropping the bill is that its wording contained "vague and ambiguous definitions and terms," activist groups have welcomed the news as a promising sign for more inclusivity in the future of sports.

The largest city in Kazakhstan, Almaty is running against Beijing to host the winter games in 2022. The winning city is expected to be announced on July 31.


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