By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre in Glasgow

Former NBA star John Amaechi (centre) claims the Commonwealth Games will help improve the situation for homosexuals in countries where they are currently discriminated against ©ITGGlasgow 2014 can help shine attention on anti-gay laws that the majority of homosexuals in Commonwealth countries face, former NBA star John Amaechi claimed here today.

It is claimed that 42 of the 53 Commonwealth member countries have laws that criminalise homosexuality, with seven of these having a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

This is against Article Seven of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) which prohibits discrimination. 

But Amaechi, the first former NBA player to come out publicly after doing so in his New York Times best-selling memoir Man in the Middle following a successful career that included spells with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, warned nothing would be changed by isolating countries with such draconian legislation.

"It doesn't take a genius to realise that some countries fail when it comes to Article Seven, that some fail to live up to the principles of sport itself," he told insidethegames here today.

"But, rather than just a scathing review this is an opportunity to bring people together and help them understand how diversity, inclusion and equality are not simply window dressing.

"Nothing can change if people remain blind to the truth.

"Someone might say, 'This is a violation of the spirit and the world of the principles of the Games'.

"But, instead of isolating 42 of the countries, we say, 'This is how we can we can help bring you into line'.

"When you create coalitions who are willing that is the only way you will ever see change happening."

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in the vast majority of Commonwealth countries ©AFP/Getty ImagesHomosexuality is a criminal offence in the vast majority of Commonwealth countries ©AFP/Getty Images

Amaechi is one among several leading figures taking part tomorrow in a conference Beyond the Games at Glasgow Caledonian University devoted to discussing issues like this and the legacy of Glasgow 2014.

Other speakers are due to speak include David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014; Fikile Mbalula, South Africa's Minister of Sport; Humza Yousef, Scotland's Minister for External Affairs and International Development; Sir Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency; and Lord David Puttnam, a film producer whose best known film is Chariots of Fire.

Amaechi has been an outspoken critic of sport's role in society since retiring nearly a decade ago.

"Generally, I find sport abdicates its responsibility to live up to its own very beautiful principles," he said.

"Hopefully Beyond the Games we can help more people realise that across the Commonwealth."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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