By COURTNEY WALSH
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley will protest intolerance toward the LGBTQ+ community at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.
The British diver, who is married to Oscar-winning director Dustin Lance Black, will play a key role in the ceremony as the final bearer in the Queen’s Baton Relay.
Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Katie Sadier said the organization has been in touch with the 28-year-old Daley, who is not competing in Birmingham.
“We have been working with Tom and we have been working with a wider group,” she said. “You will see Pride flags (in Birmingham). This is a city that absolutely embraces Pride and Pride messaging and it’s definitely something that we’re working in close co-operation with Tom Daley on.”
The Commonwealth Games is a multi-sport Olympic-style event made up of mostly former British colonies.
Daley will feature in a documentary titled “Tom Daley: Illegal To Be Me,” scheduled to be released in August at the completion of the event in Birmingham.
The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, who will carry the baton into the opening ceremony at Alexander Stadium on Thursday, will highlight the toxic culture toward homosexuality in more than half of the countries competing over the next 11 days in Birmingham in the BBC documentary.
“I’ve experienced homophobia all my life, competing in countries where it’s illegal to be me and where I don’t feel safe to leave the venue I’m competing in,” he told the BBC. “If I feel like that as a privileged man, I can’t imagine what day-to-day life is like for LGBTQ+ people around the commonwealth. We wanted it to be something that actually makes a difference.”
The LGBTQ+ community demonstrated in Birmingham on Thursday to greet the arrival of the Queen’s Baton at Aston Hall after its 25-day journey through England.
A massive global audience is expected to watch the opening ceremony, which has been planned by Steven Knight, the creator of hit Birmingham-based series Peaky Blinders.
More than 5,000 athletes have arrived in England for the competition and it has been reported that more than 1 million tickets have been sold.
The Progress Pride flag is on display throughout the city and organizers are promoting the inclusivity of the sixth edition of the Commonwealth Games held in England.
But Sadier conceded there were limits to the action the Commonwealth Games Foundation is able to take when it comes to the intolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community of several participating nations.
“We can’t go in to change the rules in countries, but what we can do is create opportunities for people to discuss issues in a safe environment,” she said. “Whenever we’re given the opportunity to talk about our values, we do that.”
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