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Pushing Pride in Sochi

Tim Stevenson will be flying to Sochi in less than a month. He has been named deputy mayor for the trip, the official representative from the City of Vancouver.

Why is this newsworthy? Tim Stevenson is an openly gay city councilor.

Apart from representing the previous host city of the Winter Olympics, Stevenson will be lobbying for a change in the Olympic Charter to include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination clause. This will allow greater opportunities for openly gay athletes, especially in countries that outlaw homosexual activity.

Also on Stevenson’s agenda, encouraging the Olympic committee to include Pride Houses in future games, a tradition that was started in Vancouver in 2010 and repeated in London, during the 2012 Summer Olympics. Pride Houses provide safe locations for athletes and coaches who identify as LGBTQ to meet and socialize. Sochi has not sanctioned the establishment of Pride Houses.

In fact, Russia has established a number of ant-gay laws that discourage open displays of affection among homosexual individuals and make it unlawful to spread “gay propaganda.” Basically, the laws make it legal for police to give out fines for public displays of affection amongst homosexuals. These laws have been attacked by human rights organizations around the globe.

The hope is that Stevenson’s efforts will be able to illicit policy change; so future Olympic participants can compete in an environment free of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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