Metro Weekly

Tom Daley wants Olympics to ban countries with death penalty for gay people

Daley said it would be his "mission" to prevent anti-LGBTQ countries from participating in the 2024 Olympics in Paris

tom daley, olympics, olympic games
Tom Daley at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games — Photo: Instagram

Gay diver Tom Daley wants to ban countries from competing in the Olympics if they have the death penalty for gay people.

The British athlete, who won gold in the men’s 10-meter synchronized platform at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said it would be his “mission” to implement such a ban.

I think it’s really important to try and create change, rather than just highlighting or shining a light on those things,” Dailey said last week at the 2021 Attitude Awards, where he was honored with accepting the Sport Award, NBC News reports.

“I want to make it my mission over the next — well, hopefully before the Paris Olympics in 2024 — to make it so that the countries [where it’s] punishable by death for LGBT people are not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games,” Daley said.

There are 69 countries with some sort of law criminalizing homosexuality, with almost half of them in Africa — a remnant of the colonial era, when British rule led to dozens of laws criminalizing same-sex sexual relations.

While punishments can vary, 11 countries have laws that punish homosexuality with the death penalty, and at least six implement such sentences, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, according to the Human Dignity Trust.

Daley also condemned FIFA World Cup organizers for allowing the 2022 competition to be hosted in Qatar, where the death penalty is a legal possibility.

“I think it should not be allowed for a sporting event to be hosted in a country that criminalizes against basic human rights,” Daley said. “So, that is going to be my mission now to change that.”

The International Olympic Committee told NBC News that it “fully respect[s] Tom Daley and his view,” but said it has “neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country.”

“This must rightfully remain the legitimate role of governments and respective intergovernmental organizations,” the IOC added.

tom daley, olympics, olympic games
Tom Daley at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games — Photo: Instagram

However, the IOC has previously banned countries from competing due to discriminatory laws, with South Africa excluded from the Olympics for 24 years due to its racist apartheid system.

Similarly, the IOC can force host cities to implement pro-equality policies. City officials in Tokyo implemented anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws in 2018 to adhere to IOC measures to prevent anti-LGBTQ cities from hosting games.

That change occurred after the heavily criticized 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which took place after the country passed its anti-LGBTQ ban on “gay propaganda.”

Additionally, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the governing body of the Olympics, has also prevented anti-LGBTQ cities from hosting competitions since the 2014 Sochi Winter Games were criticized for Russia’s “gay propaganda law.”

Daley, who came out as gay in 2013 and is married to Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, noted in his speech that a record number of out LGBTQ athletes competed in the Tokyo Games — at least 183, according to Outsports.

Outsports noted that if the LGBTQ athletes at the games were a country, they would have ranked seventh in overall medals.

Daley, one of 11 gold medal winners at the games, said at the time that he was “incredibly proud I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”

“I feel very empowered by that,” he continued. “When I was younger I thought I was never going to be anything or achieve anything because of who I was. To be an Olympic champion now shows that you can achieve anything.”

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