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Tom Daley wants countries with gay death penalty banned from Olympics

The Olympic champion says it's his "mission" to instigate change ahead of Paris 2024.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Attitude

Tom Daley is making it his mission to try and ensure that countries which criminalise homosexuality and the LGBTQ community can’t compete in and host big sporting events in the future.

Collecting the Attitude Sport Award, supported by Jaguar, at the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards powered by Jaguar, the 27-year-old gold Olympic medallist spoke of the 10 countries who take part in the Olympics where LGBTQ people still face persecution for their basic rights.

He said it was great to have more out LGBTQ athletes than ever at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but there is still work to be done to help people in other countries.

As well as using his acceptance speech to thank his family for their support as well as his synchro-diving partner, Matty Lee, outlined his thoughts on the current situation.

Tom Daley at the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar (Photography: Kit Oates)

He said: “These past Olympic Games there were more out LGBT athletes than at any of the previous Olympics combined, which is a great step forward. Yet there are still 10 countries that punish being gay with death, that were still allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.

“It’s all well and good speaking 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,” he added.

Continuing, he said: “I want to make it my mission before the Paris Olympics in 2024 to make it so that the countries that criminalise and make it punishable by death for LGBT people are not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.”

Commenting on how lucky he considers himself to come from Great Britain, he said people shouldn’t have to fear being persecuted for being themselves.

“For those 10 countries where you can’t be yourself, they should not be allowed to be at the Olympic games or definitely not be allowed to host the Olympic games.

Tom Daley (right) with Olympic diving partner Matty Lee at the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar (Photography: Kit Oates)

“For example, the World Cup coming up in Qatar has extreme rules against LGBT people and women and I think it should not be allowed for a sporting event to host in a country that criminalises against basic human rights. So, that is going to be my mission now to change that.”

Earlier in the night, Tom spoke to Attitude on the red carpet, where he said it’s his responsibility as an out athlete to lead the charge. “I really want to try over the next year or so work with the IOC [International Olympic Committee] or someone to try and create some kind of change.”

His diving partner, Matty Lee, offered his full support saying: “I feel really proud to be alongside tom and to hear him speak up at the biggest stage of the world. Change can only happen if it’s implemented at the top and then it’ll fall through. Tom’s doing the right thing and I can just support him in that.”

The Attitude Awards issue is out now.

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