Anti-LGBTIQ+ countries face potential ban from staging Commonwealth Games

·3 min read
Anti-LGBTIQ+ countries face potential ban from staging Commonwealth Games

Countries with anti-LGBTIQ+ laws could be prevented from staging the Commonwealth Games, according to organisers.

Four years ago in the Gold Coast diving gold medallist Tom Daley used his platform to strongly condemn anti-gay laws in 37 Commonwealth countries.

Since then that number has become 36 - painfully slow progress - and exactly half of the nations and territories expected to compete at next week’s Games in Birmingham.

“It’s something that we would certainly look at in the bidding process,” said Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin.

“Hopefully, if that ever happened, we would be able to work with such countries to change their ideas. It would be difficult, I know, but there’s always a first time for everything. We’ll keep working.

“The athletes have a voice, and it encourages the other ones who are frightened to say anything. They can see that yes, you can speak out and be accepted. That’s what it’s about.

“We have to showcase it and we will be showcasing it as well. We’re setting the scene, we’re forward thinking and hopefully everyone will follow us.”

Speaking in 2018, Olympic champion Daley said: “There are 37 countries where it’s illegal to be who I am out of all the Commonwealth so hopefully we can reduce that number between now and then.”

The fact only one country has changed their approach since then shows the work that needs to be done, with 12 competing nations in Birmingham still punishing the LGBTIQ+ community with imprisonment, with one, Brunei, including the death penalty in a range of legislation.

At last month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda, the UK pledged £2.7 million funding to support civil society organisations working to amend discriminatory laws and practices.

That investment includes Pride House Birmingham, the largest such project to date at a Commonwealth Games, funded by the UK government and Commonwealth Sport Foundation.

It will celebrate LGBTIQ+ heritage and success within the Commonwealth Games and in the West Midlands.

Martin added: “This one will stay open all the time and this is for the community, for this area. I’m quite sure that the majority of people in Birmingham will be in here at some stage or another. That’s what it’s about, it’s a place for them to come and meet everybody.

“We’re backing this and it follows our own values of humanity, equality and destiny. We want to make sure this works, that’s why we’re backing it.

“I think it’s very important to have this. We had one in Glasgow and in Gold Coast. I reckon this is going to be the best one yet and as far as I’m concerned it’s for everyone, especially for athletes coming into this.

“Everyone should be treated the same way, this is what I want to happen here. This is a place for everyone to come and enjoy.”