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Friday, May 17, 2013

from FARE :Sporting initiatives celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia

Sporting initiatives celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia

Sporting initiatives across the globe will take place today to help celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO); reinforcing the need to tackle homophobia both in sport and in society, and also helping to promote the wider inclusion of the LGBT community.

Ahead of IDAHO’s ninth year of activities, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stressed the urgency of educating people to help ensure the rights of LGBT people, and called for the action of governments and organisations across the world to help achieve this.

“When I raise these issues some complain that I am pushing for new rights or special rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, but there is nothing new or special about the right to life and security of a person, the right to freedom from discrimination. These and other rights are universal”.

Now recognised in over 60 countries, IDAHO was first held in 2004 and marks the date, on the 17th May 1990, when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. IDAHO now campaigns to encourage all people in society, regardless of their sexual orientation, to act towards a prejudice-free world.

Homophobia in Sport

Sport as a tool for social inclusion has been playing an important role in campaigning for the rights of the LGBT community in recent years, nevertheless homophobia and transphobia are still present in all sports and at all levels.

A 2009 report from the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, revealed that at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, only 10 out of 10,708 athletes were openly gay or lesbian. In the e-survey developed by the media company, 41% of the Olympic athletes stated that there was “no opportunity” or only a “low level of opportunity” to be ‘out’ as LGBT, even in non-professional sports.

In the Olympic Games in London in 2012, out of nearly 11,000 athletes, only 23 were openly gay.

Earlier this year, discussion around sport and homophobia increased after the 25 year-old US footballer Robbie Rogers announced he was gay at the same time as announcing his retirement from the game. The decision of the former US national team player highlighted that homophobia in football is still a major taboo and that the game is not yet a welcoming environment for the LGBT community.

Since Robbie Rogers’ announcement, leagues and federations as well as fans groups have intensified their work in trying to create a more inclusive sport.

More recently, in May 2013, the US basketball player Jason Collins came out as gay, the first active male athlete in a major American professional team sport to do so. The news created shock waves across the globe, but Jason received strong support from politicians, including the American president, Barack Obama as well as his own peers, reinforcing the need and importance for LGBT role models in sport.

This year, some of the sporting activities taking place across the world to help celebrate IDAHO include:


The Australian Football League (AFL) Players Association launched a new campaign ahead of IDAHO, using some of the country’s biggest names in the sport to tackle the issue of homophobia. The Association’s initiative includes a social media campaign #Footy4IDAHO targeting the use of homophobic language and a series of videos featuring AFL players pledging to stamp out homophobic language. The video will also help to raise awareness of the damaging effects homophobia can have within sport and the community.


In recognition of IDAHO, the LGBT resource centre QMUNITY will hold their annual breakfast and a panel discussion exploring the theme of homophobia and transphobia in sport.


The Cuban National Centre for Sexual Education (Cenesex) launched a program to celebrate IDAHO that started on the 7th May and will end on the 17th May. Now in its sixth year, the Cuban days will consist of a series of cultural and sporting activities against homophobia.


Hackney Women’s Football Club will host a charity football match in celebration of their history as the first “out” UK lesbian team.


In Berlin, the Monaco Queers, an official fan club of Bayern Munich which is open to members of any sexual orientation, will hold a charity match, followed by a panel discussion on homophobia and transphobia in football. All of the money raised from the charity game will be used to tackle homophobia in sport.


In Monterrey, on the 19th May, a 5K run against homophobia will be held, aiming to promote the inclusive power of sport, unity, equality and respect.


Ahead of IDAHO, fans of the US football team Portland Timbers staged an anti-homophobia crowd choreography at a match against Chivas USA, along with banners reading “Pride not Prejudice” and “Football fans against homophobia”.

This list of activities is by no means a complete summary of all that will be taking place across the world to help promote the International Day Against Homophobia if you would like us to list your IDAHO event, send us an email at -tweet us - facebook us.

Mariana Linhan
Media Intern
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