Canterbury, 30 September 2013
Dear IOC President Bach,
I am writing to you today urging you to change the IOC’s appeasement strategy in response to Russia’s increasingly stifling and choking homo-(and trans-)phobic policies.
I write to you as a fellow German citizen, mit brennder Sorge (cura ardente), in the full knowledge of the historic consequences, which occur when anti-Olympian discrimination and hatred is allowed to fester and to take hold of a society and polity, including tainting the name and reputation of the games.
I also write to you as a senior academic at a British university, a professor of Religion, Gender and Sexuality, and as a Human Rights’ activist, whose professional and private life is dedicated to researching and challenging inequalities in the areas of sex, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.
The Olympic spirit calls upon humankind to peacefully meet as equal friends; in harmonic and genial celebration of the many disciplines of sports; in an effort to unite competitors and spectators from different ethnicities, religions, and political views in a joyful demonstration of mankind’s finest potential. The Olympics call upon us to find sibling-hood across spatial, temporal and conceptual borders. Rightly, Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter disavows any form of discrimination as un-Olympian.
The Russian ‘anti-gay’ laws are not simply an internal Russian matter; these policies do not only harm those who live in Russia and those who visit Russia; rather, they are defiant beacons of spiteful intolerance supporting the voices of hate and discrimination worldwide.
The Russian laws harm directly through discriminatory exclusion and erasure from visible participation in society; and indirectly by fanning the flames of hatred towards vulnerable segments of society.
Research has long demonstrated the devastating effects of public ‘othering’, erasure, stigmatization and suppression.
Hate is a social justice question; hate kills.
Ending any form of discrimination and stigmatization of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans, intersex people and of all those questioning or defying categories of sexual orientation and gender identity is one the most burning social issues of the 21st century.
I am calling on you to exert unprecedented pressure on the Russian authorities to rescind the ‘anti-gay’ legislations; I am calling on you to stand strong with all lesbian, gay, bi and trans athletes and sports’ enthusiast, confirming that all sexual orientations and gender identities are, indeed, included in Principle 6 and that the IOC will not tolerate the name of the Olympics being tainted yet again by condoning or ignoring exclusion, erasure, hate speech and violence.
On the very day the Olympic flame begins its journey to Sochi, I am not calling on you to boycott the Sochi Games; rather I am calling on you to heroically live up to your historical responsibility and to use your influence to defy hate. May the Olympic torch carry hope for all; may it not become an instrument of obscuration.
Professor B Scherer, PhD
Chair in Comparative Religion, Gender and Sexuality
Canterbury Christ Church University, U.K.
Executive Editor “Religion and Gender”,www.religionandgender.org
Series Editor “Queering Paradigms”, www.peterlang.com/?QP