MONACO (Reuters) - A move by the International Olympic Committee to toughen its stance against discrimination was hailed as a victory for the rights of homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals, rights groups said on Monday.
A strengthened Principle 6 against any form of discrimination was approved at the IOC's session on Monday.
The IOC, which faced a storm of criticism ahead of the Sochi winter Olympics in Russia this year over a local anti-gay propaganda law, amended its Principle 6, specifically adding sex and sexual orientation to its Olympic Charter.
It wants to avoid a repeat of Sochi where the Russian anti-gay propaganda law caused a worldwide furore with gay rights activists saying it was discriminating against homosexuals.
"The Olympic Movement has now stood up for love and equality by officially recognising gay, lesbian and bi athletes and fans," Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of gay rights group All Out, said in a statement.
The IOC had been urged for some time to amend its charter with the Russian law sparking a wave of protests and putting further pressure on the organisation.
"There is no greater sign of progress in combating homophobia in sports than to have the oldest organised athletic competition in the history of the world saying enough is enough," said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally.
"The Olympic Charter took a major step today recognising that the practice of sport is a human right and that every individual must be able to practice without discrimination."
The groups had also wanted the inclusion of the term gender identity in the amendment which would have protected trans-gender athletes, spectators and fans but the IOC did not add it.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Martyn Herman