Featured events

7-9 September 2012
Brussels Games

Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.

Learn more HERE.
26-28 October 2012
Bern, Switzerland

The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.

Learn more HERE.
17-20 January 2013
Sin City Shootout
Las Vegas
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.

Learn more HERE.

13-16 June 2013
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.

Learn more HERE.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Saudi Arabia does the bare minimum to allow IOC to save face on religious discrimination against women

Dalma Rushdi Malhas, human fig leaf
From the BBC, news that Saudi Arabia may deign to respect international law and the Olympic Charter by allowing women (or rather, one woman) to compete in the Olympics. 

We note that the token woman is likely to be equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who competed in the first Youth Olympics, not as part of the Saudi Arabian team, but at the invitation of the IOC, and at her own expense. 

Note also that women remain in effect excluded from sport, and that only a very few sports could ever be open to women due to Islamist repression with regard to dress and access to public spaces.

We also note that the Saudis themselves explain that they were force to make this "concession" to the Olympic Charter only due to pressure and controversy, which is something to remember when the objective allies of repressive regimes call for quiet diplomacy rather than public action. The only reason the IOC was "negotiating" with the Saudis (and just why should an organization be negotiating to have its rules respected?) was because outside groups, including the FGG, have repeatedly called on the IOC to respect its own charter.

We fear that this token participation will allow the IOC to claim "victory", and that the exclusion of women from sport in Saudi Arabia and other Islamist countries will continue unabated, and that the calls for religion-based interference with the practice of sport, including the effective requirement for the hijab to be worn by women athletes, will only grow stronger.

Saudi Arabia is to allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time.

Officials say the country's Olympic Committee will "oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify".

The decision will end recent speculation as to whether the entire Saudi team could have been disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination.

The public participation of women in sport is still fiercely opposed by many Saudi religious conservatives.

There is almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in the country.

Saudi officials say that with the Games now just a few weeks away, the only female competitor at Olympic standard is showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas.

But they added that there may be scope for others to compete and that if successful they would be dressed "to preserve their dignity".

In practice this is likely to mean modest, loose-fitting garments and "a sports hijab", a scarf covering the hair but not the face.

For the desert kingdom, the decision to allow women to compete in the Olympics is a huge step, overturning deep-rooted opposition from those opposed to any public role for women.

As recently as April, the indications were that Saudi Arabia's rulers would accede to the sensitivities of the religious conservatives and maintain the ban on allowing women to take part.

But for the past six weeks there have been intense, behind-the-scenes discussions led by King Abdullah, who has long been pushing for women to play a more active role in Saudi society.
'Subtle reform'

In secret meetings in Jeddah, officials say a consensus was reached in mid-June between the king, the crown prince, the foreign minister, the leading religious cleric, the grand mufti and others, to overturn the ban.

An announcement was ready to be made but then had to be delayed as the country marked the sudden death of Crown Prince Nayef.

"It's very sensitive," a senior Saudi official told the BBC. "King Abdullah is trying to initiate reform in a subtle way, by finding the right balance between going too fast or too slow.

"For example, he allowed the participation of women in the Shura council [an advisory body] so the Olympic decision is part of an ongoing process, it's not isolated."

The official acknowledged that to refuse to let women take part would have looked bad on the international stage.

"Partly because of the mounting criticism we woke up and realised we had to deal with this. We believe Saudi society will accept this," the official said.

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