International Olympic Committee Takes Gradual Steps to Support LGBTQ Community
After harsh criticism from the LGBTQ community during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted policy changes to protect the LGBTQ community in future games.
In 2014, the IOC received criticism for choosing a host country (Russia) with draconian and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ legislation. In response to this criticism, the IOC changed its charter to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination clause. However, the non-discrimination policy does not include gender identity, and therefore does not protect transgender athletes.
The IOC also adopted a policy that ensures that each host city and its national olympic committee abide by the IOC’s Olympic Charter. This is a welcome change from the Sochi Games, when Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws put athletes and visitors at risk.
In 2015 the IOC changed its policy towards transgender athletes. Under its new policy, transgender athletes no longer need to undergo gender affirming surgery to compete. Transgender men can now compete with little restriction. However, transgender women must show testosterone levels below a cutoff point.
HRC welcomes the positive changes in IOC policy. However, the IOC must continue to enforce its non-discrimination policy and raise the bar for host cities to become more inclusive of the LGBTQ community. It must also include gender identity in its non-discrimination policy and make it easier for trans athletes to compete.