"The IOC has been willing to condemn states for their racism, for the exclusion of women athletes," said Jessica Stern of the New York-based International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "We have to call on them to take into account the safety and inclusion of LGBT athletes."
Olympics aside, it's an exciting time for gay-rights activists in both Britain and the United States as Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama each have thrown their support behind efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.
Yet even in those countries, and their Western partners, sports-related prejudice against gays persists. Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, a 2008 gold medalist in Beijing, is one of a tiny group of openly gay athletes expected to compete in London.
Sports leagues in Britain and elsewhere in Europe have been trying to combat anti-gay bias. In North America, there has never been an active player in the top four major league sports — baseball, football, basketball and hockey — who's come out as gay.
Jim Buzinski of OutSports.com, which tracks the role of gays in sports, believes progress is being made as more straight athletes support the idea of gays competing openly and as anti-gay slurs become increasingly taboo.
As for the IOC, Buzinski described its current leadership as "a lost cause."
"It's an issue I don't think these people feel comfortable talking about," he said. "It's a group that's going to be one of the last to change."
In London, spectators and athletes likely will glimpse some of the many rainbow-flag gay-pride pins that LOCOG has issued as part of its efforts to show solidarity with the gay community. LOCOG also has touted its efforts to recruit gay and transgender staff and volunteers, and include gay-run businesses among its contractors.
Nonetheless, some British activists are displeased.
Andy Wasley, media manager of the London-based gay rights group Stonewall, said there had been inadequate efforts to launch long-term initiatives aimed at increasing gay and transgender participation in amateur and pro sports.
"Given that the Olympics were won on a legacy of diversity and inclusion, it's striking how little they have done," he said.
He also expressed dismay that out of roughly 550 Britons slated to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics, only two — both Paralympians — are openly gay.
Tatchell said he had been meeting frequently with the London organizers to seek an extensive gay and transgender role in the games, and described the results thus far as "a huge disappointment."
One step LOCOG did take was to train its volunteers on dealing with gays and lesbians. A workbook describes a complaint from a spectator made uncomfortable by two men holding hands next to him.
Among multiple-choice answers for volunteers are the options to tell him to "stop being a homophobic idiot" or "politely ask the couple to stop holding hands."
The third answer is: "You explain that there is a huge diversity of people at the London 2012 Games, which includes gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals and couples."
Mark Stephens' article: http://bit.ly/KM0dgG
David Crary can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.