The International Triathlon Union, which is the world governing body for the sport of triathlon. Has just updated their race rules for 2019 this past November with a new addition to section 2.1 “General Conduct” which now stats that athletes will…

“Avoid displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda”

While the rule has been in effect for many years, this is the first year in which “Sexual Orientation” has been specifically added to the list. This means that displays of rainbow flags, HRC equality symbols and other similar displays are considered illegal propaganda within sanctioned ITU competition.

If an athlete is found in violation of this policy, it will first constitute a warning to remove the flag and if the athlete refuses, they will be disqualified and removed from the competition. In a statement sent to Outsports, ITU Spokesperson Olalla Cernuda stated that the new rule “is a similar wording that is included in many other sporting organizations.”

While the rule is commonly used verbatim by other organizers, including Ironman. The International Triathlon Union is the first and so far only organization we could find that specifically called out “Sexual Orientation” on their list of “propaganda.”

As LGBTQI rights are continuing to be eroded and queer censorship is on the rise throughout social media, including the censorship of the Warwick Rowers Calendar and the Naked Rugby Calendar as well as this writer’s subsequent Facebook Jail punishment for sharing said articles on Facebook. Most importantly, this also includes legislation such as Senate Bill 49 which seeks to strip transgender athletes their right to participate in sports. This is just yet another example that shows we are not living in a “post equality” society, and as LGBTQI rights continue to erode, we must continue to represent and educate in a world that is continuously trying to make us disappear.

One interesting thing to note, is that the new ITU rule does not say anything about gender identity, including the transgender pride flag.

By Dirk Smith