Inside Lines: New gay rights row now threatens Glasgow's Games
Sunday 29 December 2013
Just as Vladimir Putin is cynically attempting to stem the avalanche of opprobrium descending on Sochi's Winter Olympics over Russia's anti-gay legislation, we hear of a similar political hazard threatening another major sporting showpiece, one much closer to home.
Gay rights groups are protesting that the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will welcome a host of member nations whose discrimination against homosexuality is even worse than Russia's. This was highlighted last week when Uganda's parliament, which already bans homosexuality, increased punishments to include life imprisonment, also making it an offence not to report gay people, a Bill expected to be ratified by President Yoweri Museveni.
Protest groups – who threaten demonstrations in Glasgow – say such legal persecution is practised in 40 of the 53 Commonwealth countries, with some regional states inflicting flogging and death by stoning. Long-time human rights activist Peter Tatchell tells us gay rights groups have approached the Commonwealth Games Federation asking them to organise for a human rights conference on the issue in parallel with next summer's Games, without response. He added: "Neither has there been any support from the Glasgow organisers despite some 80 per cent of countries attending their Games having such harsh anti-gay laws. In these countries it is impossible for an openly gay athlete to be selected. This is clearly homophobic discrimination which the Commonwealth people need to tackle."
So far English diver Tom Daley, who recently "came out", and boxer Nicola Adams are the only known gay athletes who will be in Glasgow. Shona Robison, Scotland's sports minister, says she "fully supports any moves to protect and defend equality, adding: "The Scottish Government firmly believes there is no place for prejudice or discrimination, in any part of the world, and that everyone deserves to be treated fairly regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Countries will be in no doubt about our values when we welcome the Commonwealth to Scotland."
Gong with the wind
Apparently Whitehall mandarins have sniffily rejected the strong recommendation of the Sports Honours Committee, headed by Lord Coe, for a knighthood to be awarded to Wimbledon and Olympic winner Andy Murray in the New Year Honours as being "too soon".
Funny that, as they were quickly gong-ho for Tour de France and London 2012 cycling gold medallist Bradley Wiggins last year. We understand that Wiggo's Tour successor Chris Froome will not be getting the tap on the shoulder either. The likelihood is that he'll have to settle for a lesser accolade.
All seems to have gone rather quiet on any "Sir Becks" speculation too, but don't rule it out.
No happy return
My personal sporting New Year wish is to see a return fight between Carl Froch and George Groves. Sadly, like Mayweather v Pacquiao, it seems destined not to happen. Froch appears to have put the kybosh on it by arrogantly dissing the young Londoner who came so close to taking his title, as "a spoilt kid who behaves like an idiot and has no class."
You can bet if Froch had lost in similarly controversial circumstances he'd be screaming blue murder for a second fight.
"I'm still waiting for Froch to honour what he said to me at the ringside about a rematch," says Groves, whose stock in defeat has soared, with four top US promoters chasing his signature. So no surprise if he gets a sort of justice by leapfrogging Froch for crack at WBC super-middleweight champion Andre Ward.
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