Fury as Russian TV targets Team GB hero Tom Daley with homophobic slurs

RUSSIAN state television has fired homophobic slurs at Team GB’s Tom Daley throughout the Olympics.

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State-run outlets in Russia are facing heavy backlash after gay, lesbian and transgender athletes at Tokyo 2020 were subjected to homophobic commentary.

This year’s Olympics has seen a record number of openly LGBT+ athletes taking part with more than 150 competitors in the events according to sports website Outsports.

But a number of Russian state media hosts and guests have used slurs and terms such as “perversion”, “abomination” and “psychopaths”.

In response to the reports, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson said that “discrimination has absolutely no place at the Olympic Games”.

They said: “We have been in contact with our contractual broadcasting partner in Russia in order to get clarity on the situation and to underline the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter and we are following up accordingly.

“We welcome that Tokyo 2020 has embedded diversity and inclusion in the Olympic Games model.”

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Great Britain's Tom Daley (left) and Matty Lee celebrate winning gold in the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre: Monda

Olympics latest: Russian state TV has fired homophobia at Tom Daley and other LGBT athletes (Image: PA)

The Olympic logo 08/03/2021 at Ariake Gymnastics Center. Olympic Summer Games 2020 in Tokyo / Japan

Olympics latest: The IOC said ‘discrimination has absolutely no place at the Olympic Games’ (Image: PA)

Rossiya 1, a state-owned channel, particularly targeted Mr Daley and weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.

The broadcasters’ 60 Minutes programme on July 26 saw one panellist, a member of the Russian parliament, saying he was “disgusted” by gay and trans people.

They said: “We stand opposed to all this smut and perversion, strongly opposed. We stand against this abomination.”

Russia’s second most-watched broadcaster Channel One featured more anti-LGBT+ comments, with Time Will Tell host Anatoly Kuzichev calling trans people “psychopaths”.

Anatoly Kuzichev hosts a televised debate between presidential candidates on Channel One; the debate is part of the Vremya Pokazhet [Time Will Show] T

Olympics latest: Rossiya 1 and Channel One call LGBT athletes at the games ‘perversion’ and ‘smut’ (Image: PA)

Great Britain's Tom Daley (right) and Matty Lee during the Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre: Monday July 26, 2021

Olympics latest: Tom Daley once pulled out of a Russian sporting event because he felt ‘unsafe’ (Image: PA)

In 2014, Mr Daley skipped a Russian competition because he felt it was “too risky and unsafe”.

The Olympic diver, who won Gold in this year’s men’s synchronised 10m platform, came out as gay in 2013.

Speaking to shortlist magazine in 2018, he said: “I skipped a competition in Russia in 2014. It was in the wake of my coming out. I thought it was too risky and unsafe.

“Then, when everyone got back, I really kicked myself for not going. I’d let other people rule by fear.”

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Olympics latest: Russian federal laws passed in 2013 ban the distribution of so-called ‘propaganda’ to under-18s which promotes ‘non-traditional sexual relationships’ (Image: PA)

After winning his first Gold medal, Mr Daley said: “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone.

“You can achieve anything and there is a whole lot of your chosen family out here, ready to support you.”

Russian federal laws passed in 2013 ban the distribution of so-called “propaganda” to under-18s which promotes “non-traditional sexual relationships”, meaning an effective ban on LGBT+ relationships in the media.

The advocacy group Human Rights Watch described the legislation as a “classic example of political homophobia” that “targets vulnerable sexual and gender minorities for political gain”.

Roy Walsh

Roy Walsh

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