Over the past 30-plus years, there has been a sea change when it comes to public attitudes about LGBT issues in America. In 1988, only 11% of Americans supported same-sex marriage, while in 2020, that number jumped to 70%
Even though there is a lot more work to do for full LGBTQ equality in the U.S. the country is far ahead of most of the world. According to Human Dignity Trust, 71 jurisdictions around the world “criminalize private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity,” many of these specifically calling out sexual practices between men.
In 11 jurisdictions, people who engage in consensual same-sex sexual activity face the possibility of the death penalty for their behavior. “At least 6 of these implement the death penalty – Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen – and the death penalty is a legal possibility in Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, and UAE,” Human Dignity Trust says.
It’s unbelievable that these countries are able to carry out these inhumane laws without facing serious international sanctions. British diver Tom Daley, 27, is speaking out against this injustice and hopes that countries that punish LGBTQ people by death will be banned from the Olympics.
This Tom Daley/Matty Lee round 2 dive at the World Cup is the exact moment I gave in to Olympic fever. https://t.co/UPafMbrdZr
— Mandi Bierly (@MandiBierly)
Daley is openly gay and has won three bronze medals and one gold over the past three summer Olympic competitions.
He spoke about the issue on October 6 while accepting the Sport Award at the 2021 Attitude Awards.
“I think it’s really important to try and create change, rather than just highlighting or shining a light on those things,” Daley said while accepting the award. “So 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.”
Tom Daley calls for Olympic ban for countries with gay death penalty
During his speech, he noted that there was a record number of openly gay LGBT athletes at the Tokyo games. At least 186 openly gay LGBTQ athletes took part in the games, almost three times more than the 56 that participated in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
After winning the gold in Tokyo, Daley dedicated his win to the LGBT people.
“I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone,” he said, crying tears of joy. “That you can achieve anything and that there is a whole lot of your chosen family out here, ready to support you.”
If the International Olympic Committee (IOC) followed Daley’s suggestion, it wouldn’t be the first time it banned a country from participating due to discrimination. From 1964 to 1988, the International Olympic Committee banned South Africa because of apartheid.
However, as of now, the IOC has no plans of banning any countries that punish LGBT people by death.
“We fully respect Tom Daley and his view,” the IOC told NBC News.
“At the same time, the IOC has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country,” it said. “This must rightfully remain the legitimate role of governments and respective intergovernmental organizations.”