International Pride House summit kicks-off Football People LGBT rights events

A summit of international LGBT organisations held over the weekend in France, kicked off a series of Football People events that will champion LGBT rights in an effort to increase the visibility of and create safe spaces for the rainbow community in football.

Pride House at Euro2016
The one-day conference in Paris, supported by the Fare Network and organised by Pride Sports, gathered French LGBT groups and amateur football clubs together with activists coming from as far a field as Russia, Canada and the United Kingdom to discuss the organization of a Pride House during next year’s UEFA Euro Championship hosted by France.

The Pride House initiative consists of physical space in which LGBT fans, athletes and their allies are welcomed during international sporting events and where they can watch the competitions, socialise, learn about LGBT sport and homophobia in sport, and build relations with mainstream sport.

Sharing the experience and learnings of organising Pride Houses at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 and the Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010, activists of the Pride House International coalition gave recommendations on how to mount a similar social space at the EURO 2016. Initial plans and ideas that include activities for LGBT refugees and international conferences were presented by the French Gay and Lesbian Federation, Fare members Les Dégommeuses, FC Paris Arc en Ciel and Panamboyz United.

Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Yulia Ergorova of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, which works across Russia on LGBT rights issues, told the participants about the problems her organisation faced during the first Open Games 2014 with Russian authorities and her expectations on hosting the second edition of the event after the World Cup.

‘Be T*rue to Yourself’ say campaigners in Russia
At the same time in Russia, a two-day ‘Be T*rue to Yourself’ sport festival took place in the Siberian city of Omsk on 10 and 11 October. The festival gathered football teams from three of the region’s biggest cities, Tomsk, Novosibirsk and Omsk, that teamed-up to learn about and raise awareness of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football.

The first day was devoted to seminars led by members of the Omsk Branch of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation and the team of the Social Project Laverna. Through interactive discussions, modeling and other informal education methods the participants learned about homo-, bi- and transphobia, shared their personal experience and brainstormed ways of addressing these issues in story.

Pavel Klymenko, Fare Eastern European Development Officer, said: “It is great to see an event like this to support the rights of LGBT people taking place in Russia. The difficult situation faced by the LGBT community in this country relates to the lack of access to sport in first place and the inability to express your identity in a sporting environment.

“The festival in Omsk was a big step for many activists to develop strategies to respond to discrimination in a unified way. In a country where larger parts of society tend to react violently to any visible expression of homosexuality, the battle for equality is a collective one – more so than anywhere else.”

Under the umbrella of the pan-European Football People campaign, conferences, workshops, seminars and tournaments organised for and by the LGBT community will take place in Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

In other events, English Second Division club Bolton Wanderers FC will host an inter school tournament with anti-homophobia workshop and tournament; Sportif Lezbon in Ankara (Turkey), Stowarzyszenie Chrzaszczyki in Warsaw (Poland) will organise workshops for players who experienced homophobia, and NRG in Ukraine will organise sport events aimed at providing lesbian and bisexual women the opportunity to get into the game.

In Paris, France, Fare member Les Dégommeuses will host a panel discussion on 22 October on lesbophobia and gender norms in sport.

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