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Ban anti-buggery nations from Olympics - gay activists

Published:Wednesday | June 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP):

Despite broad worldwide gains for gay rights, homosexuality remains criminalised in many countries, a sore point for activists who hope the global stage of the Olympics can be a springboard for change.

Specifically, activists are asking why the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with a credo of 'sport for all', welcomes in its ranks scores of nations that ban gay sex. For the IOC, which has taken actions in the past to combat racism and sexism, it's a new civil rights challenge likely to linger long after the upcoming Summer Games in London.

"The IOC needs to come out of the closet," said prominent British human rights lawyer Mark Stephens. "Sport for all means all, irrespective of colour, gender or sexual orientation. It's a matter of human dignity."

Stephens, in recent a public lecture and an opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper, has called on the IOC to ban the roughly 75 countries, mostly from Africa, the Caribbean and the Islamic world, that outlaw homosexual activity. That demand has been embraced by Peter Tatchell, a leading British gay-rights campaigner, and has prompted several human-rights organisations to say the IOC should at least speak out, even if a ban at this stage is unrealistic.