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Pride House co-founder applauds Vancouver Sochi delegation

Dean Nelson will help lobby the International Olympic Committee

Chris Morrissey, co-founder of Vancouver’s Rainbow Refugee Committee, says hosting Pride Houses at international athletic competitions is a symbol of inclusion in a world where queer rights continue to be trampled. Credit: Shauna Lewis

The co-founder of Whistler’s 2010 Pride House is applauding Vancouver city council’s passage of a motion to lobby the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to specifically protect gay athletes in its charter.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Tim Stevenson, passed unanimously Dec 18.

The motion will also see city delegates lobby the IOC to make Pride Houses part of city bids for all future Olympic Games. 

Stevenson will attend the Sochi Games in Russia as deputy mayor of Vancouver and meet with IOC officials alongside co-delegates Dean Nelson, co-creator of Whistler Pride House, and Maureen Douglas, who worked with the Vancouver organizing committee for the 2010 Games.

“We will persuade the IOC to enshrine in the host city agreement that future community-based Pride Houses be included in the hosting of the Games to ensure that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, rights and religions, are all welcomed through creating a safe and welcoming space to enjoy the Games,” Nelson said.

“The Olympics are being hosted in a country where the promotion of gay holocaust is greeted not by disgust but by applause,” he continued.

Vancouver’s delegation “will signal to the world that Vancouver is a progressive and compassionate city that stands up for the civil and human rights of LGBT people,” he added.

“We can’t change Sochi, but we can work to make sure it’s not repeated,” said Dean Malone, co-chair of the city of Vancouver’s LGBTQ advisory committee.

Chris Morrissey, co-founder of Vancouver’s Rainbow Refugee Committee, said Pride House is a symbol of inclusion in a world where queer rights continue to be trampled. “Encouraging the creation of Pride House, that all future Olympics will take part in, will support the human rights of LGBT people on another level."

Morrissey doesn’t expect the IOC to change quickly but says Vancouver has a responsibility to encourage change.

“I think this is a process,” she said. “This may be the first opportunity to speak to the IOC, and I have no illusions that this is going to change things immediately, but I believe that it’s a step we need to take.”

“The creation of Pride House not only showed the Olympic family, but families around the world, that we welcome everyone and that we would dare to speak openly and honestly about homophobia and transphobia in sports and schools,” Nelson said.

Two years after the first Pride Houses opened their doors in Whistler and Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Games, the UEFA Euro football cup in Warsaw and the Summer Olympics in London saw their own Pride Houses in 2012.

Pride Houses are also planned for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Toronto and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.