DURING July and August, Scotland will host 2014's biggest gathering of the world's most powerful anti-gay lobby:
the leaders of 80% of the Commonwealth.
Uganda's legislation passed this week, imprisoning for life anyone in a sexually active gay relationship, has generated an interest in the Glasgow 2014 Games beyond those delighted, as I am, to see Sir Bradley Wiggins competing.
How our dignitaries welcome President Museveni and 40 other Commonwealth heads who make it illegal in their countries to be gay will be keenly observed. Yesterday, on the same day Jackie Kay, the Scottish-Nigerian poet, compared the oppressive new anti-LGBT legislation in her father's homeland to Nazi Germany, the Scottish Government finally went on the front foot on the matter. As one prominent source said: "The issue is now so high profile it's hardly something anyone involved in the Games can now shy away from."
The Games partners (the Government, Glasgow City Council and Glasgow 2014) were expecting some politicisation of the event. It is, after all, a political organisation's sporting jamboree. And few major events are immune.
Until late 2013, Sri Lanka had been the expected focus, with predictions of hundreds of UK-based Tamals arriving from London to protest at human rights violations by the Sinhalese Government in Columbo.
Calls for boycotts of the Sochi Winter Olympics due to Russia's restrictive laws on promotion of gay lifestyles shifted that expectation to LGBT politics, with Nigeria and Uganda's recent laws and some domestic pressure leaving them in little doubt as to what the issue will be.
The announcement of an LGBT Pride House for the Games on Monday was an attempt to pre-empt the Ugandan laws, of which the partners had been given advance warning.
Notably, no equality groups are urging a boycott and instead want pressure applied.
Scotland's tolerance has again been highlighted by the Government's stance in today's Herald but how does that translate to an improvement in the human rights of millions from Jamaica to Pakistan and Tanzania? And what of Glasgow, keen to promote itself internationally on the 2104 Games platform? Last year Lord Provost Sadie Docherty was quick to pull up her civic counterpart in Rostov-on-Don on national anti-gay legislation in Russia.
On the much more restrictive laws of our Commonwealth guests? Not a peep. Council insiders say there's no plan for what happens when the leaders are in town. But, tellingly, senior members of the administration will be given the VIP treatment during the Games rather than civic baillies. The reason: "To promote business." Not rights, then.
The risk of souring the First World War 100th anniversary commemoration the day after the Games conclude will also be a civic worry. Meanwhile, of those MSPs who voted recently voted for same-sex marriage, more than 100 haven't uttered a public word on LGBT abuses within the Commonwealth. But then, few politicians question anything about the Games.
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