THE Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games came to end on Sunday night with no athlete publicly protesting Russia’s controversial ‘gay propaganda’ laws.

The closing ceremony saw IOC president Thomas Bach hail the Olympics as heralding a “new Russia”, but pro-LGBTI groups have said it was now up to the IOC to ensure that it follows its own charter in favour of non-discrimination.

Lobby groups All Out and Athlete Ally joined former Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis in calling on Bach to follow through with the charter’s Principle 6 clause as a requirement for any future Olympic hosts.

Nationwide legislation signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin mid-last year made it illegal to positively portray the lives of LGBTI people in public while also forbidding information relevant to LGBTI issues from children under the age of 18.

“IOC President Thomas Bach must learn the lesson from the anti-gay fiasco in Russia and ensure this never happens again,” All Out co-founder Andre Banks said.

“We are calling on Bach to make upholding the Olympic Principle of non-discrimination a binding condition for all future Olympic host applications.”

More than 50 Olympians, including a dozen who competed in Sochi such as Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, signed up to Athlete Ally’s campaign to speak out against the Russian laws before and after the games.

However no athlete at the games engaged in an explicit protest or speech for LGBTI rights during the two-week event. Despite this, there were a number of notable protests from others.

A trans* former member of Italy’s parliament, Vladimir Luxuria, was detained twice by Russian police during the event’s final week after first holding a sign reading, “Gay is ok” and then trying to bring in a rainbow headdress and a gay pride flag into an ice hockey match.

Meanwhile, members of punk activist group Pussy Riot, including newly-freed women Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were whipped by a cossack guard late last week as they tried to film their latest video critical of Putin and the Sochi Olympics – which they labelled a “political” event.

Russia’s next global sporting event will be when it hosts 2018 FIFA World Cup. The captain of the England women’s football team, Casey Stoney, has already said she will not be attending the event or the following World Cup to be held in Qatar due to the discrimination faced by LGBTI people.

“I won’t be going to Russia or Qatar to watch a World Cup because I wouldn’t be accepted there,” she said.

“[It is] incredible that these countries get World Cups and Olympics.”

 

 

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