The ITU should reconsider banning the rainbow flag

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There has been a recent change to the ITU Competition Rules 2019 that states that athletes are forbidden from 'displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda'. The phrase "sexual orientation" has been added to this rule.

The rule does not outline what is considered to be a ‘demonstration of sexual orientation propaganda’ and so it not only disallows the rainbow flag, but also rainbow laces, sweatbands, and tri-suits for LGBT clubs.

The word ‘propaganda’ used in this context is inherently negative, and it mirrors language used in countries with a poor record of LGBT equality where they seek to repress and discriminate. Displaying a rainbow flag or other LGBT symbol is not the same as trying to persuade someone to another point of view. Nobody will become gay, or consider becoming gay though displays of positive messages. This is about promoting and celebrating LGBT participation in triathlon.

Clarification is also required regarding the statement from ITU that “we want to make sure that the triathlon course is a safe place for every single person to compete”. Does the ITU consider LGBT athletes to be at risk during their events for being publicly open about their sexual orientation? 

We would like to see the following:

* The ITU should remove the words sexual orientation from this rule.

* The ITU should express that all people are welcome within triathlon regardless of sexuality or gender identity.

* The ITU should publish a strategy for promoting inclusion of LGBT and other marginalised groups within triathlon.