The new Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive has said she wants to meet Tom Daley to discuss his concerns about homosexuality being illegal in half of the countries competing in Birmingham next year.
In her first major intervention since taking charge at the CGF last month, Katie Sadleir expressed her determination that the 2022 Commonwealth Games would be the most inclusive in history.
While homosexuality is still illegal in 36 of the 72 countries that will be in Birmingham, Sadleir made it clear that she wanted the Games to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ people, and hinted that could extend to allowing athletes to make podium protests in support of the community.
A Pride House in Birmingham, which aims to be a safe space for gay spectators, athletes and officials, has already been announced. Next week the CGF will also unveil the Commonwealth Sport Pride Network on Rainbow Laces day, with the aim of supporting and connecting LGBTQ+ people at the Games as well as celebrating the impact they have had on sport.
Sadleir also wants to meet Daley, who has been a particularly vocal proponent of the need to get tough on Commonwealth countries that ban homosexuality, to see what else the CGF can do.
“I can meet with Tom and we can create an opportunity to raise issues in a safe environment,” she said. “What I can’t do is go into the countries and change their laws at this stage.
“We don’t set the rules for all the countries but what we do do is to create a platform to discuss things that we think are important. We have been working on the concept of a Pride House to create a safe space for athletes to come and discuss issues, to raise the profile of the community.”
Sadleir also suggested that athletes would have greater freedom to protest at the Commonwealth Games compared to the Tokyo Olympics. “We’re probably in a little bit of a different space from the IOC,” she said. “Our Athletes’ Commission have been working on the development of an athlete advocacy policy framework, which will be released sometime in January.”
Daley has regularly used his platform to suggest that the Commonwealth should be doing more to support LGBTQ+ rights. Speaking after winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast – when homosexuality was illegal in 37 countries taking part – he said: “You want to feel comfortable in who you are when you are standing on that diving board and for 37 Commonwealth countries that are here participating that is not the case.
“I feel with the Commonwealth, we can really help push some of the other nations to relax their laws on anti-gay stuff.”