There are few things I like more than Arsenal FC and there few things I like less than discrimination.
Because of this, I rather appreciated Arsenal’s latest campaigns video in support of the #RainbowLaces campaign to ‘kick homophobia out of football’.
Stewart Selby, co-ordinator and founder of the GayGooners commented on the Arsenal press release that: “Arsenal’s participation in the advert and the campaign means so much to Arsenal’s LGBT fans and the community. The campaign sends the message that attitudes should and can change.”
A pair of rainbow laces will be distributed to professional players across the UK for them to where on the weekend of Saturday September 13th to create a visual display that homophobia is not accepted in the modern game.
Writing this from Uganda, one wonders though how the millions of devote Arsenal fans here will react to the campaign!
To often when I write about LGBTI rights I write about the negative violations of these rights.
Today of all days it would be too easy to write another article condemning another set back for the global struggle for equality.
Instead I wanted to write about a good news story. This good news story comes from my home country, the UK.
From 29 March 2014 same sex couples will be able to marry in England and Wales. This represents one of the final few steps in the marathon to fight for equal rights in the UK.
This makes me proud to have been born in the UK and to call this part of ‘my culture’.
And, just as I too often talk about LGBTI rights in the negative I am aware the same can too often be true when I write about politicians.
It is because of this that I wanted to share with you this video from the organisation Stonewall thanking MPs and MSPs for speaking out in favour of equal marriage.
It is inspiring to look back at where we have come from in such a short space of time. Please do share this video with friends and family.
Today marked a milestone in the campaign to tackle the discriminatory policy which had banned gay men from donating blood. This ‘modern’ policy however, in full knowledge of the latest medical advice, is still fundamentally discriminatory and stops gay and bi-sexual men from donating when they are safe to do so.
The change in policy basically changes a lifetime ban for a gay or bi-sexual man from giving blood to a one year ban. It is clearly a step in the right direction and will undoubtably enable some gay and bi-sexual men from giving blood. At a time of national shortage however, we need every man and women who safely can to donate blood.
As Ben Summerskill the Chief Executive of Stonewall commented, ‘To retain a blanket ban on any man who has had sex with another man in the last year, even if he has only had oral sex, remains disproportionate on the basis of available evidence”. Significantly I would also add to this comment, “even if the sex was protected and with just one partner”. For me this new policy remains fundamentally unacceptable and discriminatory. Let me explain through an example.
A gay man in a monogamous relationship who has only had oral sex with one partner his entire life will still automatically be unable to give blood. This is in contrast to a heterosexual man who has had multiple partners and not worn a condom with any of his partners who will not be questioned about his behaviour, let alone banned.
I would argue that all those who wish to donate blood should be questioned on their sexual behaviour, regardless of their sexuality, and then assessed appropriately. This currently does not happen.
Therefore this blog post ends with a plea. For anyone who fits into the new arbitrary criteria to give blood, please do. Go and give blood for all of those who cannot. People’s lives depend on it.
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!