Friday, 25 February 2011

Equality in the stands

Well what a few weeks it has been.

Football v Homophobia, the international initiative begun by The Justin Campaign last year, has been a tremendous success.

Events on three continents and in more than a half dozen countries have really raised awareness of the issue on inequality in the world's most popular sport.

Yet just as our volunteers were getting some much needed sleep, came this idea from eastern Europe - separate stands for LGBT fans at the Euro 2012 competition.

No one is doubting that in Poland and Ukraine, members of the LGBT community face hatred, bigotry and abuse on a regular basis.

Indeed as Teczowa Trybuna 2012 (Rainbow Stand 2012), the Polish national team's fan club, state: "Unfortunately, during trips to matches in Poland, we often encountered unpleasantness, harassment and violence from the ‘real’ fans."

But, while the idea is to to encourage people to be aware that football is a game for all, we feel it would only end up having a negative effect.

It seems that many football fans across the globe are in agreement.

Eager to gather thoughts on the issue I asked the question on Twitter - see @justincampaign.

@Norfolkblogger wrote: "Terrible idea. Should we have separate teams too? Ridiculous!" while @SteveJB84 told us: "Really bad idea, should be integration not separation. Homosexuality isn't contagious."

As shown by the Football v Homophobia event in Ukraine, progress can be made through people uniting together, not through taking an independent stand.

After all football is a team sport and no matter how strong the individual, a collective effort will always shine through.

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