Peter Tatchell, campaigner for OutRage, described the cancellation as "a real disappointment". Photo thanks to BinaryApe (flickr)
The Football Association (FA), as part of its commitment to tackle homophobia had planned to launch a new film in conjunction with “Kick it Out” and “OutRage” this Thursday. The launch was going to be held in Wembley stadium. It appears however, after a last-minute cancellation that once again the FA has climbed down on its commitments to tackle homophobia. This strategy and launch was planned nearly two years ago, and yet no real explanation for cancellation was given.
I have blogged before about the need to tackle homophobia in British football, with still no openly gay footballers and players lives often being made hell by ignorant fans. Stonewall recently commented that 7 out of 10 fans interviewed in a survey had witnessed homophobic abuse. Anyone who has ever been to more than the occasional match knows that this is not exaggerated.
I remain convinced about football’s potential power to make real change in society (for the better). Equally, I remain frustrated with the FA’s dragging of feet whenever anything progressive is mentioned. I am sure Rio (critically acclaimed England Captain) will be looking to bolster his image, especially considering his slip on live radio when he called Chris Moyles a “faggot”. Why not get him involved (assuming he doesn’t do more harm than good)?
Tomorrow will be just another day, when the FA sits on their arses refusing to make any substantial change in “their sport”. We (the supporters) need to give them the kick that they need to truly “Kick homophobia out of football”. By cancelling this film, they have sent out all the wrong messages. We need to stand up and tell them that this is unacceptable!
The BNP has been receiving more air-time and discussion than they deserve. Yet there seems to be one aspect of this debate which is not being discussed. No one seems capable or willing to listen to what BNP members have to say. It is essential that we do not lose sight of the fact that BNP members (spokesmen and leaders) are still humans with emotions, families and friends just like the rest of us. Portraying them as monsters that bear no resemblance to our-selves is morally naive and ultimately detrimental to tackling the sort of hatred some of their policies can incite.
It is essential that we do not carry on condemning the individuals who support the BNP like we are in a bizarre 21st century witch hunt. Instead we should stop and listen to try and understand why they may have come to these political views. The moment we lose the ability to empathise with BNP members, sympathisers and leaders, is the moment we get dragged into the sort of politics that the BNP has become renowned for. This is not the same as saying we have to accept their political message. Indeed, I think we will be in a stronger position to tackle far-right politics if we first learn to listen.
I have never had the opportunity to sit with a BNP official or member (to my knowledge) and talk to them on a human level. The BNP are obsessive about infiltration and leaks. Everybody outside of the BNP is petrified of be associated with the BNP in any way because of the stigmatised image of the BNP. There is an atmosphere of ignorance and that is being driven on by a mutual distrust and a breakdown in communication. There is responsibility from both sides to try and tackle this situation.
It is apparent that at the moment there is no shortage of voices condemning the actions and policies of the BNP. There is, however, a distinct lack of people willing to listen. There is a subtle balance in recognising the humanity of all, whilst still denouncing beliefs that we feel to be fundamentally wrong. It is a balance that perhaps we must all strive to make.