LGBT Participation in the 2012 Olympics

Publish Date: 18/07/2012

 

London won the bid to host this year’s Olympics on the promise to be the most diverse yet. Our capital is one of the world's most diverse cities yet the presence of LGBT community is fairly minimal.

Human rights and gay campaigner Peter Tatchell started discussions with the London 2012 Olympic organisers when the bid was won and supported LOCOG (the games organising committee) when it launched pin badges which combine the rainbow flag with London’s Olympic and Paralympic logos. Recruitment from the LGBT community for the Olympic authorities and volunteers to help at the games is stated to be 6% of LOCOG’s total staff.  

This however is not enough for Peter Tatchell who later said to Gar Star News :

‘The only things that have happened have been the pin badges and the recruitment of LGBT volunteers for the games. I am not aware of anything else the Olympic organizers have done or plan to do. It is a huge disappointment.”

Whose “Out” -

Considering that this years Olympics and Paralympics were ment to draw upon the diversity of our nation there are still only a handful of openly gay sportsmen and women actually taking part in the games and just two of them from Great Britain. They include -

Lee Pearson, who was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenital which effects the arms and legs.  He has since gone on win three gold medals at last years Beijing 2008 Paralympics.

Claire Harvey who after a tragic cycling accident left her completely paralysed in one leg, without peripheral vision and a loss of several nerve functions. After extensive physio and rehabilitation she discovered sitting volleyball and after just two years she has been selected to the national Sitting Volleyball team and will represent Great Britain in this year’s 2012 Paralympics.

She comments;For many sportsmen and women who I know who are in that position and who aren’t out you get into that “I haven’t said so” for so long, it becomes harder and harder to change that position and that’s why I made a conscious decision that I was going to do it straight away.”

We feature a full interview with Claire for the August / September issue of outnorthwest.

Other out athletes who are also heading for the London games include: French handballer Alexandra Lacrabère, French pentathlonist Florian Bou, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, Australian volleyballer Natalie Cook, U.S. equestrian Guenter Seidel, USA footballer Megan Rapinoe and Marilyn Agliotti, a member of the Gold Medal winning Dutch Hockey team.

There are also concerns that countries are taking part that still have homophobic legislation in place. Peter Tatchell has called for anti-gay countries to be banned from the Olympics; “Why isn’t homophobia, biphobia and transphobia being challenged by the Olympic authorities? It is wrong that in over 150 countries LGBT athletes are forced to hide their sexuality in order to get selected and compete.”

Whilst it’s important to highlight this inequality, it’s also important to celebrate those taking part in the games from the LGBT community.

Homophobia is still a real issue in sport and it’s important we help to tackle this by championing LGBT sportspeople, celebrating their achievements and where possible being ‘out’ in your sports community.

What can you do?

Why not support this year’s Pride Games, an annual multi-sports festival for lesbian, gay and bisexual, transgender people and their friends, taking place from now until 21 in Manchester- http://www.pridesports.org.uk

To find out how you can get involved in sports check out our resource ‘Get in’, with a foreword by Gareth Thomas http://www.lgf.org.uk/Our-services/Campaigns/Get-in-/

For the latest on Peter Tatchell's call to for all nations to sign equality pledge - or face ban visit his website herehttp://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/