NEW rules that imply any host city will have to prove they do not actively discriminate against gay people was approved by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) overnight.

Members of the IOC met in Monaco on Monday to vote in favour of amending the anti-discrimination clause of Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, to specify that it applies to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, as well as race, gender, politics and religion.

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Before the amendment was approved, Principle 6 read: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

With sexual orientation now included, it implies that countries with laws that actively discriminate against gay people can not apply as a host city for winter or summer Olympics.

However, details are still unclear as to whether this decision will impact future bids, and the IOC did not include formal protections on the basis of gender identity, either.

Nonetheless, the development followed widespread global protests earlier this year in light of Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws at the time of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

International anti-homophobia organisation All Out, which reportedly has two millions members, was one of the leading advocates that brought about the landmark change in the IOC.

“The Olympic Movement has now stood up for love and equality by officially recognising gay, lesbian and bi athletes and fans,” All Out executive director Andre Banks said.

“This gain was made possible because of the global outcry demanding ‘No More Sochis’… We will continue to push to make sure this change is reflected in the selection of new host cities and expanded to include protections for gender identity.”

All Out members have also called on the IOC to go one step further and also include protection on grounds of “gender identity”, which protect trans* athletes, spectators and fans.

All Out, in partnership with Athlete Ally, launched the Principle 6 campaign last year to highlight the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and give athletes and fans a way to speak out against Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws before and during the Sochi Olympics.

More than 50 Olympians, including a dozen competing in Sochi such as the Australian bobsleigh team, joined the campaign.

Protests were organised in more than 50 cities around the world, an online #LoveAlwaysWins video went viral, and All Out’s petition to amend Principle 6 became the largest-ever petition received at the IOC, with over 300,000 signatures.

These efforts led to the IOC’s initial public statements after Sochi that confirmed lesbian, gay, bi and trans* athletes were protected under Principle 6.

“The Olympic Charter took a major step today recognising that the practice of sport is a human right and that every individual must be able to practice without discrimination,” Athlete Ally executive director Hudson Taylor said.

Main image: All Out members present its petition to the IOC.

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