Greens leader Christine Milne has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider changing the location of the upcoming Winter Olympics from Russia to another country in protest against recent laws that make it illegal to discuss LGBTI issues in public or the media.
Milne told the Star Observer yesterday that it was now up to Foreign Minister Bob Carr to make it clear the Australia Government did not support discrimination of LGBTI people anywhere in the world.
“I am really tired of the Australian Government not standing up for equality and against discrimination,” she said.
“I don’t see how the Olympic tradition is being upheld by staging the Olympics in a country where one group of people is discriminated against. It shouldn’t be happening and we shouldn’t be legitimising it.“
In a letter addressed to IOC President Jacques Rogge, Milne made clear the Greens’ opposition to the Games taking place in Sochi in February next year in response to domestic laws that discriminate against the LGBTI community and undermine the Olympic ideals and principles of equality under the law and fundamental human rights.
“I note that under the Olympic Charter, the IOC is charged with the responsibility to ‘act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement’. In the interests of protection of human rights, and upholding the responsibilities of the IOC under the Charter, I urge you to move the event to an alternative location,” Milne stated in the letter.
“Furthermore, I note that the Olympic Charter states the role of the IOC is to ‘encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes’. It is clear that the discriminatory laws in question will have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of many athletes and attendees at the proposed Sochi Winter Olympics.”
The letter to the IOC comes as Milne also signed a pledge with human rights organisation Kaleidoscope Trust on behalf of the Greens to uphold and advocate for LGBTI rights in Australia’s foreign relations.
“Australia has a pivotal role to play in the global and regional movement to repeal all legislation that criminalises people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status,” Kaleidoscope Trust executive director Lance Price said.
The Greens leader is the latest high-profile person to call for a boycott, with gay activist and former Star Trek star George Takei suggesting the Games be moved to Canada when they take place in early 2014.
In an interview with Canadian newspaper National Post this week Takei said his stance and call for a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia were inspired from the lessons of history.
“In 1936, the Olympics committee granted the rights to stage the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Three years before that, Hitler came to power and he got a law passed which seemed innocuous at that time: Jewish professors could not get tenure,” he said.
“But then the international stage was offered to him and he gloried in it, and it raised his status and gave him more power amongst the German people. And his campaign of horror began and you know where that led.
“And now we’re offering [Putin] that same international stage, that same international spotlight … I think we need to take the Winter Olympics away from Russia.”