Alex Salmond urged to condemn Commonwealth homophobia

Support non-discrimination clause, Article 7 of Commonwealth Games

First Minister urged: Welcome LGBTI athletes to Glasgow

Countries that refuse to support equality should be barred from the games

Glasgow, Scotland - 22 July 2014

"We are asking Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, to express his grave concern at the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people in 42 of the 53 Commonwealth member states. We urge him to appeal to all participating countries to adhere to Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution, which prohibits all discrimination," said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

"Countries that refuse to support Article 7 - or that perpetuate discrimination in access to sports facilities, training camps or team selection - should be barred from participating in the Commonwealth Games. If they are not prepared to abide by Article 7 they have no right to come to Glasgow or future Commonwealth Games."

"Eighty per cent of Commonwealth countries discriminate against LGBTI people. The intensity of homophobia in these countries is so great that it is very unlikely that they would select a LGBTI athlete to compete in Glasgow. I can't imagine homophobic states like Uganda, Brunei or Nigeria selecting a LGBTI athlete. They are more likely to jail them than send them to Glasgow.

"In addition, there is widespread gender and ethnic discrimination in many Commonwealth countries, which also inhibits equal, open and fair selection for the national teams coming to Glasgow.

The Commonwealth Games organisers need to take a tougher line against countries that discriminate. Although the Glasgow 2014 administrators are commendably committed to equality and diversity, they have disappointingly not agreed to the Peter Tatchell Foundation's request to require all participating nations to sign a pledge to uphold Article 7," said Mr Tatchell.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation has written to the Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014, David Grevemberg - a copy of the letter follows below.

“We are asking Glasgow 2014 to require competing nations to sign a pledge of non-discrimination in their team selection, in accordance with Article 7 of the constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation - but with expanded grounds of non-discrimination such as ethnicity, caste, sexual orientation and gender identity,” added Peter Tatchell.

“This would be a very significant, high-impact equality initiative. It has never been done before and would make Glasgow2014 unique, trailblazing and rightly deserving of public acclaim.

“While all participating countries agree to accept the Commonwealth Games constitution, which includes Article 7, this is a mere formality. They have never been specifically asked to agree to non-discrimination.

“Prejudice, discrimination and legal victimisation are prevalent in many Commonwealth countries, which may prevent affected athletes securing access to top class sports facilities and training camps - and inhibit their selection for the Commonwealth Games. This needs to be challenged.

“The Commonwealth Games should foster a culture of equality where athletes compete solely on the basis of merit.

“We hope Glasgow 2014 will accept our proposal to further enhance its existing commitment to equality,” said Mr Tatchell.

Copy of the Peter Tatchell Foundation letter to Glasgow2014

Chief Executive
Glasgow 2014, Commonwealth Games

Dear David Grevemberg

Non-discrimination pledge from countries competing at the Commonwealth Games

Article 7 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation states: “there shall be no discrimination against any country or person on any grounds whatsoever, including race, colour, gender, religion or politics.”

Currently, 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member countries have laws that criminalise homosexuality. Seven of these have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In parts of two Commonwealth countries - Nigeria and Pakistan - lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can face execution under Sharia law.

In addition, these countries have such high levels of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that it would be very difficult - if not impossible - for an openly LGBT athlete to be selected by their country to compete in the Commonwealth Games. Prejudice would almost certainly preclude their selection - and preclude their access to international level training facilities within their home countries.

While Glasgow2014 cannot be held responsible for the anti-gay laws of 80% of Commonwealth member states, it does have a responsibility to ensure that there is no discrimination by participating nations in the selection of their national teams.

This issue of discrimination in team selection is not confined to LGBT competitors. In some Commonwealth countries there are serious problems of prejudice and discrimination based on ethnicity, caste, gender and disability. This may diminish access to top class sports facilities and training camps - and inhibit selection for the Commonwealth Games.

While we congratulate Glasgow2014 on its commitment to not discriminate, we believe you also have a duty to ensure that competing nations give an undertaking of non-discrimination in their team selection.

We request that Glasgow2014 requires all competing nations to sign a pledge on the Opening Day of the Commonwealth Games that they do not discriminate in team selection on the grounds of race, ethnicity, caste, gender, disability, faith or non-faith, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This would uphold Article 7 of the constitution and values of the Commonwealth Games - and send an important signal that Glasgow 2014 is inclusive and committed to ensure equality for all competitors and nations.

The commitment to non-discrimination needs to come from the top and be publicly visible - not only from the Commonwealth Games organisers but from every national team too.

Making Article 7 a reality requires an active pledge by all the participating national teams.

We ask you to facilitate this.

Thank you for considering our request.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation