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The IOC Reminded Russian LGBT Activists about Freedom of Speech at the Olympics

Coalition of Russian LGBT organizations received an official response from the International Olympic Committee to their earlier request.

The IOC decided to not try and obtain clarity from the Russian authorities about the implications of the national ‘anti-propaganda’ legislation. Instead, the Committee reminded activists, media, and participants of the games about freedom of speech and excellent working conditions for the media guaranteed in Sochi.

Reacting to the question about the impact of the ‘propaganda’ law on statements about equality and non-discrimination at the games, the IOC stated that athletes and guests of the Olympic games are free to express their views of any kind in response to journalists’ questions, in thesocial media, and in discussions.

In the official letter to the LGBT coalition that includes ‘Russian LGBT Network’ movement, ‘Coming Out’ LGBT organization, ‘Side by Side’ Film Festival, Russian LGBT Sport Federation. ‘Rakurs’ LGBT organization, and Out Loud project, JochenFärber and Mark Adams of the IOC say:

Participants at the Olympic games may of course express their opinions and will have many opportunities to do so whilst respecting the Olympic Charter, for instance to answer questions if asked in a press conference or mixed zone, in a media interview or on social media and discussing with their fellow athletes, officials and others – to name but a few.

“Sochi pledged, in its bid book, excellent working conditions for the media at the Games and the IOC is working with Sochi 2014 to achieve these objectives. We expect that approximately 14,000 accredited media which will be at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi will be able to report freely on the Games.”

“We hope that the media and participants of the Games will exercise their rights for those who usually can’t. We hope that no one will subject themselves to unnecessary and dangerous by its consequences self-censorship in a situation when an outspoken position is much needed,” comments Anastasia Smirnova, coordinator of the LGBT coalition. “We call for the media to ask the important questions and to help us make a positive change in our country.”

In the written communication, that was handed to Thomas Bach at the meeting on 29 November 2013 in Paris, Russian LGBT activists asked the IOC to obtain clarity on the impact the ‘propaganda’ law may have on the Winter Games, particularly – on the work of the media and on behavior and statements of the participants. The IOC’s official response, which is dated December, was sent only now, upon activists’ repeated request.

Letter of the IOC
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