Gay men and lesbians insist on public presence at Euro 08
Albert Otti reports from Vienna on the determination of homosexual groups to highlight perceived hostility towards homosexuals in European football.Fed up with what they describe as hostility towards homosexuals in European football, gay and lesbian activists are determined to take a stand during the current Euro 2008 championship.
In Vienna, activists have initiated a poster competition to come up with a campaign against homophobia in football, while a gay party lounge called the LockerRoom has secured a coveted spot in the middle of the Zurich fan zone.
The fact that there are no openly homosexual professional football players is the strongest indication of a homophobic atmosphere in this sport, organizers of both initiatives said.
"In football, gay men and lesbians have absolutely no opportunities, so we saw a strong need for action," Hannes Sulzenbacher, one of the initiators of the poster competition told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The winning entry, chosen by the jury for its clear message, shows the torso of a player dressed in the Austrian team colours. Instead of a team captain's armband, he wears a band with the word "Gay" on it.
The poster by Vienna art student Martina Schoenherr was shown as part of the best 32 submissions in the Museumsquartier art complex, only a few minute's walk from the official fan zone.
Among the designs sent in from about a dozen European countries and the United States, the high number of entries from Central and Eastern Europe was noticeable, Sulzenbacher said. In his opinion, homophobia is particularly rampant in this region.
The posters will also be shown in the LockerRoom, a bar and lounge for gay people and their friends in the center of the fan zone in Zurich.
As homosexuality and sexuality were still taboo topics in sport, "we wanted to be in the middle of things, and not on the sidelines", Rolando Fusco, one of the operators, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The LockerRoom lounge on the edge of the Limmat river in central Zurich has space for around 130 guests. It features a bar, outdoor area, stage and TV screens for viewing Euro 2008 games.
A club for gay managers and an association of Swiss gay bankers have already booked the lounge for specific games, Fusco said.
(DPA - Expatica June 2008)
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