02/07/2014 06:11 EST | Updated 04/10/2014 05:59 EDT

IOC In Sochi Open To Gay Reform: Tim Stevenson


Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson says he received a great reception from the International Olympic Committee in Sochi.

Stevenson is in Sochi representing the city in the place of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The Vancouver councillor says he was bracing for a lukewarm welcome, given all the attention he has been bringing to gay rights issues. But he says IOC officials had plenty of time for him.

"I truly believe there are changes afoot," Stevenson told CBC Early Edition host Rick Cluff by phone. This new president [Thomas] Bach has been embarrassed by what's happened here and they [the IOC] don't want to be embarrassed in the future.

In a separate interview with the CBC's Jian Ghomeshi, Stevenson called gay rights 'the civil rights issue of our time.'

"You know we have to remember that in Canada only 50 years ago it was illegal to be gay.  I would go to jail for being gay — just 50 years ago. I'd say substitute the word 'black' or the word 'Paralympian' for gay and maybe you'll begin to understand the issue."

In many ways, Stevenson says it's Vancouver that is setting the example.

"In a way, we're a bit of a beacon to the world to show the world how transformation can happen and it can happen peacefully. "

Read more here on Q with Jian Ghomeshi​ or to hear Ghomeshi's full interview, click 'Listen' on the side panel.

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