Inside Lines: After Russia the heat is on Qatar over anti-gay laws

 

The New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, a gay-rights activist, says he will wear the Rainbow Pin, created by the London Olympic Organising Committee (Locog) to promote diversity at the 2012 Games, during next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi. It is anticipated that many of his fellow competitors will join him in protesting Russia's new anti-gay legislation which prohibits the promotion of homosexuality.

But will any footballers do the same at the subsequent 2018 World Cup in Russia and four years later in Qatar, where similar laws apply? Like many Islamic nations Qatar follows Sharia law which criminalises homosexuality between men (though oddly not women). But while the authorities are more relaxed about imposing it than some others in the Middle East and Africa – where it can be a capital offence – the ban on promotion of gay propaganda is still rigidly enforced.

This week Britain's Gay Footballers Support Network will meet with other human-rights groups to develop a strategy which puts pressure on world sports bodies such as the IOC and Fifa not to award major sports events to the countries which embrace discrimination in any form. As GFSN chair, Chris Basiurski points out: "We have seen evidence in the past that when the likes of Fifa or the IOC swan in somewhere they may get the rules temporarily suspended but afterwards it reverts to the same situation."

While the IOC is "seeking clarification" from the Russian government – doubtless pointing out that discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is against the Olympic charter – it is believed Fifa will actively seek a suspension of anti-gay legislation both in Russia and Qatar for the respective World Cups.

Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, assured Basiurski that he was "working on it" when they met during the London Olympics. But Basiurski warns: "Relying on a temporary suspension, even if one is possible, could mean missing the chance to create a change in these countries." He accepts that gay competitors and supporters may have to keep a low profile, "put prudence before politics" and, as Russian athlete Yelena Isinbayeva says, respect the laws of the land.

But Basiurski, whose Polish grandmother was interned in a Soviet gulag, adds: "What alarms me is that while the authorities may turn a blind eye, they might encourage vigilante groups that won't. In Russia I suspect they are using this as a distraction from other domestic issues rather like the Germans did with the Jews. How long will it be before gay people there will be forced to wear pink triangles?"

C K's Wu turn

Dr C K Wu, the Taiwanese tycoon who is running for the IOC presidency, performed a remarkable U-turn when, over tea at London's Cafe Royal last week, we pointed out just how ludicrously unfair it was that Nicola Adams, lauded by AIBA (the international boxing body he governs) as the first female boxing Olympic gold medallist just a year ago, should be barred, along with every other English boxer from schools level upwards following AIBA's spat with the ABA of England, by the same organisation which claims a prime objective is to protect and further the interests of boxers. Was this not against the spirit of Olympism?

Wu got the message, especially when informed that Lord Coe, who has the ear of many IOC voters, was also rather peeved. "Irrespective of the outcome of the dispute there will be on no further ban on the boxers," Wu declared. "It is my personal decision."

That's how autocracy works. Yet within a few hours ban-happy AIBA slapped a similar suspension on the South African ABA. So what's up, Doc?

London bonding

An audacious bid by its Malaysian president Prince Tunku Imran to move the base of the Commonwealth Games Federation from London's Eon House, headquarters of the film company that makes the James Bond movies, to Kuala Lumpur has been thwarted following angry protests from several countries. Federation staff were said to be shaken, but relieved that they are not to be stirred.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week