LGBTI Sports Blog

Glasgow 2014: Uphold Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games

14th July 2014

Glasgow 2014: Uphold Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games

The Peter Tatchell Foundation is urging the organisers of 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.

We are also suggesting that the pledge expand the grounds listed in Article 7 to include an explicit pledge of non-discrimination based on ethnicity, caste, sexual orientation and gender identity.

This would be a very significant, high-impact equality initiative. It has never been done before at any Commonwealth Games and would make Glasgow 2014 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.

Peter Tatchell (right) and campaigners march during Pride London 2014.

Prejudice, discrimination and legal victimisation are prevalent in many Commonwealth countries. This may prevent affected athletes securing access to top class sports facilities and training camps – and inhibit their selection for their national team to the Commonwealth Games.

In most Commonwealth countries, for example, the level of homophobia and transphobia is so great that it is very unlikely that a LGBT athlete would be selected for their national team.

Glasgow 2014 should make it clear that all such discrimination is incompatible with Article 7 and participation in the Commonwealth Games.

The organisers could, through this pledge, help foster a culture of equality, where athletes are more likely to be selected and compete solely on the basis of sporting merit.

We hope Glasgow 2014 will accept our proposal to further enhance its existing commitment to equality. 

Below is a copy of the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s letter to the organisers of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games: 

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 

Written by Peter Tatchell (Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation) on 14th July 2014.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF) seeks to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally, in accordance with established national and international human rights law. The aims and objectives of the PTF are to raise awareness, understanding, protection and implementation of human rights, in the UK and worldwide. This involves research, education, advice, casework, publicity, lobbying and campaigning for the enforcement and furtherance of humanitarian statutes and values.