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Olympics' Women In Sport conference virtually ignores lesbian issues

The Federation of Gay Games had a couple members at the International Olympic Committee's Women in Sport conference last month. All of them reported on a strange lack of discussion about lesbian issues. Roger Brigham wrote for the Gay Games blog:

But the word "lesbian" went unuttered, as did any mention of the pervasive discrimination and inhospitable work environments that lesbian athletes and coaches face – and not just from heterosexist men. Consider that it has been less than a year since Nigerian women's soccer coach Eucharia Uche called lesbians in soccer "a dirty issue" and declared that she had driven all lesbians off of her World Cup team. The international soccer federation has promised, after public outcry, to conduct an investigation, but a positive statement on the right to respect and inclusion of lesbians in sports in the conference's closing platform would have sent a strong statement to the very sports federations the IOC is supposed to be influencing and added teeth to whatever steps the soccer federation finally takes.

The power of homophobia in sports has diminished in American sports, but it is still a real issue to contend with, especially for female athletes battling very different issues from what men deal with. And the Nigerian soccer example is dead-on: In places like Africa and the Middle East it is still a crime to be gay.

It's an issue the IOC needs to give a healthy dose of attention; Ignoring it at their own conference is a real head-scratcher.