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Egale calls for apology from Canadian IOC Member, Richard Pound

OPEN LETTER

10 February 2014

Mr. Richard W. Pound
Member of the International Olympic Committee
Château de Vidy
Case postale 356
1001 Lausanne
Switzerland

RE: Comments to Metro regarding anti-LGBT legislation in Russia

Dear Mr. Pound:

On 29 January 2014, the daily newspaper Metro quoted you as stating that you believe the seriousness of the anti-gay propaganda laws in Russia, those which silence the expression of LGBT persons on the false pretense of protecting children from sexual predators, has been exaggerated and does not merit the level of international attention and criticism that has followed.

As Canada’s only national LGBT human rights organization, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust is deeply dismayed that a respected Canadian representative to the International Olympic Committee would seek to downplay and excuse LGBT human rights abuses rather than send a firm message of condemnation to the Russian government.

The laws passed in the Duma on 29 June 2013 are a grave violation of the rights of millions of Russian citizens and foreign residents, directly contravening the values enshrined in the Olympic Charter. As a direct result of this institutionalized discrimination against LGBT persons in Russia, violent and humiliating attacks directed at LGBT people have become widespread and are well-documented. Moreover, loose or unclear interpretations of these laws have often given local officials license to crack down against LGBT communities with impunity.

All human rights violations are unacceptable and should never be diminished or ignored. LGBT people in Russia are being denied their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and recognition of their inherent dignity as members of the human family. The grievous nature of this reality is in no way affected or lessened by how Russian laws compare to other regions of the world. Your demonstrated lack of sensitivity or knowledge on human rights is intolerable from a public figure and it is imperative that you educate yourself on this issue.

Mr. Pound, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust urges you to apologize and to redress your comments made to Metro excusing the severity of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to address this matter further, as well as to discuss the reality of LGBT human rights abuses more broadly.

Sincerely,

[original signed]

Helen Kennedy
Executive Director