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Tom Daley says countries with death penalties for LGBTQ people should be banned from the Olympics

The Olympic gold medalist is determined to ensure anti-LGBTQ nations won’t be welcome at the 2024 Paris Games.

The Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards
Tom Daley displayed his activist streak while accepting his 2021 Attitude Award.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

For years, Tom Daley has been used to having an amplified voice. Ever since winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics, he’s used the increased attention to elevate his platform even further and advocate for the LGBTQ community.

So when he attended the Attitude Awards ceremony last week to accept the Sport Award, Daley used the moment to push for a cause that’s become increasingly important to him.

He wants to ban countries with death penalties for LGBTQ people from participating in the Olympics.

“These past Olympic Games, there were more out LGBT athletes than any of the previous Olympics combined. Which is a great step forward,” Daley said. “Yet, there are still ten countries that punish being gay with death that were still allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.

“I want to make it my mission — hopefully before the Paris Olympics in 2024 — to make it so that the countries that criminalize, and punish LGBT people by death are not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.”

Daley’s proclamation was met with huge applause and a partial standing ovation in the middle of his speech.

According to the Human Dignity Trust, countries where being LGBTQ is punished with the death penalty include: Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Of the countries on that list, Daley singled out Qatar, which will be soon be hosting the World Cup, one of the biggest international sporting events out there.

“The World Cup coming up in Qatar, [a nation that] has extreme rules about LGBT people and about women. I think it should not be allowed for a sporting event to [be hosted] in a country that criminalizes against basic human rights,” Daley said. “So that is going to be my mission now to try and change that.”

As Daley reflected earlier in his speech, he’s come to realize that it’s not enough for a public figure with his level of influence to merely mention social causes and bask in the adulation. Instead, he proclaimed that it’s time for him to act.

“I know I’ve spoken a lot about [this issue],” he said. “But at the same time, it’s all well and good to be able to speak about those things, but I think it’s really important to try and create change rather than just highlighting and shining a light on those things.”

With those words in mind, this is certainly not the last we’ll hear from Daley as he works to fight back against the countries that criminalize our community.