The Iraqi soccer team
Should the Olympics Ban Antigay Countries?

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com June 13 2012 4:24 PM ET

The Olympic ideal is to set aside disagreements every four years, but one division has some LGBT activists calling for certain countries to be expelled.

With athletes gathering this year in London, the International Olympic Committee is being challenged by British LGBT activists who say nations with antigay laws should be barred from attending — about 75 countries, estimates the Associated Press.

"The argument that politics and sport don't mix is pretty misguided," wrote British human rights lawyer Mark Stephens in an op-ed in the Guardian. "Discrimination is a human rights issue, and to suggest that human rights are merely political is to fundamentally misunderstand their role in helping the vulnerable and disenfranchised.

Stephens unloaded a long list of examples in which countries were banned from the Olympics because of human rights violations. Stephens is being supported by LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, who backed up the idea that LGBT Olympic athletes who fear persecution in their home countries should be given asylum in the United Kingdom if they come out.

The Associated Press reports that Amnesty International, while it didn't support blocking countries, at least wants the IOC to speak up about the issue.