Sport must stop homophobia06 March 2004

The “Building Bridges” conference has concluded that sporting authorities must do more to prevent discrimination due to sexual orientation. To counteract the silence on homophobia and the discrimination on sexual orientation in Sport, the conference called for a European Year against Homophobia. The year against Homophobia in 2008 would follow previous years: against racism, for the elderly, for gender equality, and for disabled people.

The conference was held at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam on 5 March 2004, the fifteenth anniversary of the EGLSF (European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation). This European Federation is officially recognized by the Council of Europe and represents over 100 sport organisations in 16 European countries. The EGLSF are also active members of the FARE core group.

Speakers at the conference included Tony Banks (UK MP and former Minister of Sport), Ms. Kathalijne Buitenweg (MEP); and John Blankenstein (Openly gay UEFA international football referee).

Despite the presence of the European Commission and the English FA and despite the recent call of the Council of Europe to UEFA; European football’s governing body, failed to attend this conference addressing the persistent homophobic abuse in football. The absence of UEFA disappointed many, especially after UEFA’s very active support of FARE recently. According to the adopted recommendations of the Council of Europe (Council of Europe Official Document No.9988, “Lesbians and Gays in Sport”, 22-Oct-2003), UEFA is called to ”adapt its ten point plan against racism for professional football clubs so as to include action against homophobia”.