FIFA’s landmark Human Rights Policy pledges to “create a discrimination-free environment within its organisation and throughout all of its activities” and declares that “FIFA Statutes prohibit discrimination of any kind”— including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity .
Even without the anti-trans law, Georgia’s lack of antidiscrimination protections is alarming and causes major concern about Atlanta’s aspirations as a host city.
According to Georgia Equality, Georgia is one of only five states in the whole country that has no state law protecting people from discrimination in public accommodations. It would strengthen Georgia’s commitment to human rights — and Atlanta’s viability as a host city — if the state enacted such protections, including laws to protect athletes, fans, Georgians, and visitors from around the world from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other grounds.
As it stands now, Atlanta faces steep competition for a host city spot. Many of its competitors – including New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles – are in states with non-discrimination laws that cover public accommodations. Many of them explicitly prohibit, or are interpreted to prohibit, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
It has been a challenging time for so many across the United States, and in Georgia. Atlanta has an opportunity to once again be in the global sports spotlight, while also bringing much-needed tourism dollars and business to the state, by hosting the largest-ever soccer World Cup.
Ensuring all LGBT Georgians are free to be who they are is the best way to honor the resilience of the city today, and the dream of an inclusive future worth cheering for.
Minky Worden is director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch and oversees the organization’s work on human rights and sports. Follow her on Twitter @MinkysHighjinks.