TAKING A STAND IN THE STANDS
The first ever gay fan club for Poland’s national football team has asked organisers of the 2012 European Championships to set aside separate seating for LGBT fans so that they are protected against potential homophobia.
Teczowa Trybuna (Rainbow Stand) 2012 posted on its website that: “During trips to matches of our beloved clubs.we unfortunately are often faced with unpleasantness, harassment and violence from the ‘real’ fans…”
This is an unfortunate situation. I have great respect for this openly gay (and proud) fan group, especially since Poland still carries a stigma against homosexuality. Add to this the thug and hooligan culture of football and it is clear that Teczowa Trybuna has a very good reason for their request.
If I’m honest, I do not believe segregating the stands is the way to go. Wouldn’t this just drive a wedge between straight and LGBT fans? I’m sure the separation will certainly not help maintain an equal and all-inclusive community, and if anything will provoke hostility towards the fan group from less accepting supporters.
I am not alone in this viewpoint. A spokesman for Warsaw’s Campaign Against Homophobia, Gregory Czarnecki, said: “I don’t think many people would be brave enough to not only come out, but also to sit in this section.” I believe he is right. The process of eradicating bigotry from football is still in its early stages, and surely the better aim would be to embrace LBGT fans and welcome them to the fold rather than pen them away for their own protection.
There is still another year to pass before Euro 2012 takes place in the Ukraine and Poland, so let’s hope that there will be some progress for Teczowa Trybuna and its supporters.