Commonwealth Games boss says anti-LGBTQ+ countries unlikely to host – but no ban is in place

Homophobic countries are less likely to host the Commonwealth Games going forward – according to its CEO – though nothing is set in stone.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games are taking place in Birmingham from 28 July.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Katie Sadleir addressed calls for a boycott of anti-LGBTQ+ countries.

She told the BBC that countries with laws that don’t match the federation’s values will be less likely to host the games going forward.

However, the federation has not instigated any specific policy or ruling on the matter, despite long-standing calls for a boycott.

More than half of the 54 countries participating in the games have laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, mostly carry-overs from British colonial rule.

Sadleir is keen to bring the Commonwealth Games to countries within Africa or the Caribbean, but is reluctant to consider bids from those that retain anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

She explained that the federation works closely with a lot of “exceptional” LGBTQ+ athletes to raise awareness and visibility.

“I think one of the things that is really important about the Commonwealth Games is its values,” she said. “Humanity, destiny and equity are embedded in most of the things that we do.”

Previously, Sadleir has offered to meet with swimmer Tom Daley, who is among those calling for the games to boycott anti-LGBTQ+ countries.

However, she argued that she can’t “go into the countries” that criminalise being LGBTQ+ and “change their laws at this stage”.

Sadleir has confirmed that LGBTQ+ athletes will be able to raise the Pride flag at the 2022 games.

Michael Gunning (Adam Pretty/Getty)

Retired Great Britain and Jamaica swimmer Michael Gunning is another vocal advocate for inclusion in sport.

He told the BBC that for many queer athletes, “there are still so many countries [where people] can’t be open, can’t express themselves, they cannot speak openly at home”.

“I’m being visible. I’m being that beacon of hope for Jamaicans,” he added.

“I really hope that more athletes will feel comfortable, especially at this Games and moving forward to be themselves and show their identity in the sporting arenas.”

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