The Commonwealth Games 2022 start today and for the first time LGBTQ+ athletes will be able to display the Pride flag when they take to the podium.
The games themselves have been addled with calls regarding their relevance in today’s society (they used to be called the Empire Games, let’s just say) as well as concerns with the fact that it is illegal to be gay in many of the Commonwealth Countries. The latter means that the games are ‘unlikely’ to ever actually be held in one of these countries.
This year however, there are many LGBTQ+ athletes and in an interview last December, Katie Sadleir, the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive said: “We will be talking to athletes over the next six months in the lead-up to the Games about what that may or may not look like — but certainly, we are open to that.”
This has since been confirmed so when the games open this evening in Birmingham, all eyes will be on the delegations from each country, especially how open and confident the athletes feel when marking LGBTQ+ rights on and off the podium.
While this is great news, the whole situation is extremely complicated when it comes to the idea of the Commonwealth at all. Most of the current anti-LGBTQ+ laws are left over from Colonial times after all so after imposing such laws centuries ago, is it even appropriate to go back and tell them they are wrong again?
As we said, it’s VERY complicated but in the mean time, the opening ceremony is expected to be watched by a BILLION people worldwide. 72 nations will be competing, there are more medals for women than for men this year and para events are included in the main games too.
In the meantime, at this year’s games, Pride House Birmingham have opened it’s doors in Birmingham’s Gay Village and will function as ‘a gathering space for LGBTQ athletes from around the world’. Pride Houses have been present at many international competitions over the last decade, including Olympic and Paralympic Games.