Les Dégommeuses festival celebrates football for refugee inclusion ahead of Euro 2016

Over the next eight days a football festival will bring to Paris refugees living Europe, activists and football fans to raise awareness of the life trajectories and living conditions of LGBT refugees and celebrate football's role for inclusion.

Kicking-off a week ahead of the start of UEFA Euro 2016 in France, the Football For Freedom festival will build on the work of the French LGBT rights organisation in encouraging the participation of refugees in sport, through a range of sporting, educational and cultural activities.

Nine refugees currently living in Europe, will shared their stories and captain one of the teams participating in the festival's football tournament. Most them are LGBT activists who fled their countries to escape persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity and will use the event to highlight the emancipatory virtues of sport in their lives.

The weeklong festival will also include film screenings, debates, a photo exhibition and workshops on issues related to LGBT inclusion, homophobia and sport, football for social inclusion and anti-discrimination.

"Throughout the years with our work we have sought to encourage refugee participation in sport and help welcome LGBT people who have come to France fleeing from countries where they have been threatened because of their their sexual orientation.

"In 2015, we received support from Fondation de France, which allowed, among other things, to buy sports equipment and meet commuting costs the for refugees and other members of the team. Football For Freedom is part of our long-term commitment to better welcome these refugees into our society." said Les Dégommeuses in a press release.

The festival follows a similar initiative organised by the French group in 2012, Foot For Love, in which the South African women's team Thokozani Football Club was invited for a weeklong of initiatives in France raising awareness of violence against lesbians.

Later on that year, Les Dégommeuses produced a documentary written by Thokozani FC player Thembela Dick telling the story of the club.

The Football For Freedom festival is an initiative organised in partnership with Les Lesbiennes dépassent les frontières and ARDHIS and supported by Fare and the Paris City Hall.

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