Coun. Tim Stevenson says trip to Sochi exceeded his expectations in advancing LGBT rights

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      Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson says he's extremely pleased by the reception he received from the International Olympic Committee during his recent trip to Sochi.

      "It exceeded all expectations," Stevenson told the Straight by phone after his return.

      Stevenson said that the Vancouver delegation, which included former Vanoc community relations and communications director Maureen Douglas, met IOC president Thomas Bach's chief of staff and another IOC official for nearly an hour and a half.

      "There is a huge amount of discrimination in the sport world and within the Olympic world," Stevenson stated. "That was our first and main point."

      He emphasized their goal was to try to convince IOC delegates to amend the Olympic Charter to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

      "They said that this new president has decided that the IOC needs to go in a new direction," the Vancouver councillor revealed. "There are a whole number of issues that had to be looked at. He's going to have a comprehensive review."

      According to Stevenson, this will include input from the public over the IOC's website and is expected to be completed by December.

      He suggested that because Vancouver was the last host city of the Winter Games, it has legitimacy in bringing this issue forward.

      Stevenson noted that after he met IOC officials, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, gave a speech to IOC delegates condemning Russia's persecution of the LGBT community.

      Russia has passed legislation fining people the equivalent of $160 for "promoting homosexualism". 

      Russian president Vladimir Putin has defended the law as a necessary measure to protect children in his country, somehow conflating homosexuality with pedophilia.

      "I think the reasons the changes are happening is because of pressure from our community around the world—getting at the sponsors and so on," Stevenson said.

      He also stated that the new Russian law has helped to legitimize homophobia in that country.

      "Now it's okay to beat up a gay wherreas before, it was held down and suppressed," Stevenson said. "This has allowed this ugliness."

      Stevenson was not given a chance to meet the mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov, who has claimed in the past that there are no gay people living in his city.



      Give him a ribbon.

      Feb 11, 2014 at 10:49am

      A $50,000 look-at-me ribbon that is. Thankfully, this taxpayer funded grandstanding mission is complete. I'm sure he made absolutely no difference to anyone, but hey the photo OP's were great. And that's all that really matters on these useless, expensive junkets.


      Feb 11, 2014 at 11:29am

      Why does this sound completely naive? The proof is in the pudding. The IOC has willfully violated its own charter (Principle 6) with the Sochi Games, and Canada's own rep, Dick Pound, would rather deny Russia's human rights abuses exist at all than see the blood-soaked reality. Not that the IOC and the Olympics has ever held the moral high ground, what with all the bid/judging/doping scandals and their authoritarian demands of their hosts. Brazil, South Korea, and Japan, which are hosting future games, aren't like Putin's Russia, so the IOC can mislead all it wants. But if the dollars led to Pyongyang or Kampala in the future, I'm sure the IOC would just as quickly turn a blind eye to the prison camps and hangings.


      Feb 11, 2014 at 11:38am

      Excellent that he got such a good response from the IOC. Seems Putin may have done us a favour, actually exposing how much the world has changed now. ;)


      Feb 11, 2014 at 11:39am

      What a waste if time and money, quit whining and get over it, did you not bring another jacket or a change of clothes, always wearing same thing


      Feb 11, 2014 at 12:58pm

      Let's see, the mayor of Sochi wouldn't meet with him. The head of the IOC wouldn't meet with him. Some underlings from the president's office met with him just so the Olympics wouldn't appear "insensitive". But hey, his rose colored glasses lead him to believe that was "successful". Self delusion seems rampant in this city administration. What a pathetic waste of money.


      Feb 11, 2014 at 1:48pm

      There just has to be more important things a public servant can do with his time and our money. What a waste, but I am sure he enjoyed the trip.


      Feb 11, 2014 at 3:44pm

      What a waste of money! Getting some platitudes from the IOC "exceeded his expectations?" How absurd. That money could have been spent on something besides a holiday for a poltician, his cronies and the propaganda campaign surrounding the exercise. No doubt we will hear far more about the success of this jaunt during the election campaign than about Vision's plan to reward developers who happen to donate to the party.

      Vision has a very effective propaganda machine, much of it funded by taxpayers thanks to the enlargement of the "Department of Information" under the auspices of Mayor 1%. They understand that most voters are well conditioned members of a herd that have tunnel vision with respect to "the issues," especially when they are structured as "X justice." By tailoring propaganda to the concerns of different herds Vision encourage ignorant obedience better than any other civic party and they get it.

      Most issues that Vision try to keep in the media appeal to the range of voters they co-opted from the incompetent COPE. All things bike related are heavily promoted by Vision and the media eagerly drink the kool-aid. Vision also like to promote their "commitment" to heritage and the arts even when that "commitment" is a convenient by-product of making a developer friend millions of dollars. Vision also like the media to cover their work in the DES, which largely consists of giving money to relatives or friends of donors. Vision know that this trip to Sochi bought off the leadership of key LGBT groups in Vancouver and their support in the upcoming election, even as Vision plan on radically changing the centre of the community in Vancouver.

      Vision does not like the media looking into their relationship with developers or their plans for the city if they win the election in the fall. Vision does not like the media examining the real reason they closed Point Grey Road and they know that pretending the issue is something to do with bikes will be eaten up by the media. Vision know that they can keep directing taxpayer funds towards companies owned by people affiliated with Tides Canada or US as long as they are spun as "green." They have mastered the art of controlling and directing multiple messages at different constituencies and whilst being the best friend developers have ever had.

      Alan Layton

      Feb 11, 2014 at 4:08pm

      G - basically you are saying that Vision is more effective at getting the flock to do what they want compared to whatever shepherd you eagerly follow?

      Barry William Teske

      Feb 12, 2014 at 12:52am

      Chances are President Putin has honoured many at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
      Chances are he has or will have chance to honour most of the athletes in every olympic category.

      Odds are he will have honoured an amazing array of human beings of every stripe, color and creed.

      Non of them molesters, paedophiles, radicals, threats to religion or extremists.

      But every one of them being of one persuasion or another. Straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.

      Fully accomplished in the sport they hard trained.
      Their duty taken on for each respective country they represented.

      Lets hope he has a new view of the human beings that make up that Russian society he serves and the world he wants his country to prosper in.
      The ones who were there and the ones who were invited, for the sportsmanship of the olympics.

      But mostly, lets hope the lies, the hate, the accusations and violent homophobia some of his fellow country men, clergy, and including the non resident influencers - that hold extremist views about humanity and everyones place is in it, according to what they think is evil and what is not.
      Lets hope he asks to see the documentation and evidence regarding those issues he offered to talk about in a more appropriate venue. And lets hope he sees the true evil and hate supplanted.

      Lets hope he finds those young lost persons of Russia who have been beat, tortured, raped and murdered.
      Lets hope he finds justice for those outcast youth that are the ones to have suffered the most.

      Otherwise those gold, silver, and bronze medals everybody will be celebrating will be for nothing.