The Gaysport.org website is just one of the many initiatives that the European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF) promotes in support of sport for the LGBT community. Other major activities that the EGLSF promotes include EuroGames and the EGLSF lobbies for setting and acknowledging the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender in sports.
The idea of organizing EuroGames was born after the second Gay Games in San Francisco 1986. The first EuroGames took place in The Hague in 1992, and the EuroGames 2008 in Barcelona will be the 12th EuroGames. The annual general assembly of the EGLSF decides which bidding club or city is going to organize the EuroGames, and in order to make it possible for smaller cities to arrange such games, EuroGames are organised as either “big” or “small”, i.e. the number of sports offered is limited (usually alternates). Visit the EuroGames website for more history and information.
The European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation – EGLSF was founded September 9, 1989 at the Gay Sport Integration Congress in the Netherlands. 35 participants came from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, but the number of European countries represented by member clubs and individual members is much higher nowadays. Visit the EGLSF website to find out more information about the activities of the Federation.
Advocacy Work Against Discrimination
Discrimination is regrettably still a common problem for the gay and lesbian sport community!
In October 1994 the EGLSF published “A Documentation on the Discrimination of Gays and Lesbians in Sports”. In this report a total of 25 examples of discrimination were outlined. The range of discrimination varies from excluding gay and lesbian athletes from participating in sports events to open, or hidden violence, mobbing and psychological pressure.
Since then many additional cases have been reported. These cases were published in an update of the document called “Offside” in 1999. It was presented at the Building Bridges conference in The Hague.
“Offside” was distributed to all sport federations, the European Committee, the European Parliament, the European Council in Strasbourg and the organisers of the European Conference on Sport and Tolerance. One of the EGLSF’s main tasks is to put its finger on those cases of discrimination and homophobia and to raise awareness on this important issue in the world of sports.
The EGLSF lobbies for setting and acknowledging the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender in sports and therefore strives to be involved in all international declarations or agreements to fight discrimination of all sorts and against anyone, no matter whether he or she is gay, bi- or heterosexual.
FOOTBALL AGAINST RACISM IN EUROPE
The EGLSF is working as a partner within Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) since 2002. FARE is a European Network which was founded in 1999. The idea behind FARE is to promote a commitment to fight racism at all levels of professional and amateur football across Europe – in stadiums, on the pitch, in administration, in coaching and sport education and in the media. Therefore it is necesarry to raise awareness amongst the European football family as to the benefits of the integrative potential of football and to encourage all to take action against discrimination.
FARE administration meetings are held 3 or 4 times a year so that ideas, problems and new plans can be discussed in person while most of the work is done via email.
Learn more about FARE at www.farenet.org.
HOMOPHOBIA IN FOOTBALL
In Football the silence of fans, players, coaches, clubs, and associations or the negation and invisibility of homosexuality are serious expressions of homophobia. When the opposing team or the referee is called “gay,” most people do not even notice any abuse. Homophobia and sexism are often understood as being part of the cultural logic of football.
To establish an atmosphere of acceptance of gays and lesbians in the world of sports should be a normal duty for sport organisations and their leaders. To counteract the silence on homophobia and to combat the discrimination on sexual orientation in football, first of all, all football authorities have to acknowledge the existens of lesbians and gays.
While we keep waiting for the coming-out of a top player, a lot of work can be done. By transforming established structures of male bonding into a new form of solidarity, a new atmosphere may be created both on the pitch and on the terraces, in which the decision for diverse life-styles is entirely up to the individual, who will not be left alone with possible unpleasant consequences, however.
At the UEFA conference “unite against racism” in Barcelona in the beginning of 2006 a workshop on homophobia was held by EGLSF.
For the first time ever UEFA acknowledges the existance of homophobia in football. The workshop was a big success. Delegates from many European Football Associations did participate in the workshop. Speakers were John Blankenstein (UEFA referee), Lucy Faulkner (English FA), Marianne Meier (Swiss Development), Tanja Walther (EGLSF). The workshop was chaired by Pepe García Vázquez (EGLSF).The support from FARE made it possible to create a paper on homophobia in football: KICK IT OUT (www.kickitout.org). The paper was presented at the conference in Barcelona.
The outcome of the conference is a good practice guide for clubs Tackling racism in club football [pdf]. The guide includes 2 pages on “Dealing with homophobia and sexism”, and it is available in different languages.
FOOTBALL IS EVERYTHING
Two workshops, one during the EuroGames in Antwerp and one on October 12, 2007 in Berlin were the kick off to put homophobia and sexism on the agenda of clubs and national FA’s. The new EGLSF campaigne “Football is everything” supported by FARE hopes to bring at least anti-discrimination provisions including anti-sexist passages to stadium, club and FA regulation and statutes as a fisrt step within the anti-discrimination work.July 2007: More than Playing Games – Antwerp, Belgium
Conference report [pdf];October 2007: Football is Everything – Berlin, Germany
Evening against homophobia report [pdf].
In the future EGLSF wants to widen this campaign. The Advocacy plan 2007-2010 shows that the work within the football community is just the pilot project to implement a strategy to combat all forms of discrimination and to promote equality in sports.FAIR PLAY, TOLERANCE & SAFETY IN SPORTS FOR EVERYONEIn 1996, the EGLSF was invited to the International Conference of the European Council in Amsterdam as the only delegate of the gay and lesbian community. This conference, “International Round Table on Sports, Tolerance and Fair Play”, accepted a declaration that stands for fair play and tolerance and condemns discrimination in all forms. This declaration is supported by the EGLSF as a step in the right direction. However, the EGLSF expressed its disappointment that the discrimination of gay and lesbian athletes was not explicitly mentioned.
In 1999 the EGLSF organised a conference called “Building Bridges Between Regular Sports and Gay / Lesbian Sports” and gave a summary on the integration of gays and lesbians in regular sport. Due to the “Building Bridges” conference the Dutch Sports Ministry granted a subsidy to enable the EGLSF to work with European institutions and regular sports associations.
In 2001 the EGLSF was invited by the Council of Europe to participate in a special Ministers’ Conference on “Sport, Fair Play & Tolerance” at the recommendation of the Dutch authorities.
In 2002 the Council of Europe officially granted the EGLSF consultative status by which the organisation was acknowledged as an expert on homosexuality in sports.
In 2002 the EGLSF initiated a motion for a recommendation on the problematic situation of lesbians and gays in sports in member states in the Council of Europe. Since September 2002 the EGLSF has been working together with other NGO- sports organisations in the field of anti-discrimination in sports in the FARE-network (FARE, Football Against Racism Europe). There is more to do than fight racism alone; homophobia needs to be tackled as well. As a result of this co-operation, the German organisation of football fan groups, BAFF, has adopted a 7-point action plan against homophobia. In a history exhibition touring Germany, a panel dedicated to the issue of homophobia in football was included.
In 2003 the EGLSF attended the UEFA conference “Unite Against Racism” in London. This conference was organized by UEFA in co-operation with Kick it Out (a FARE core-partner and anti-racist group in London) and the English Football Association. At this conference the topic of homophobia in football was addressed for the first time. A FARE conference was also held during the EuroGames in Copenhagen.
2004 was the 15th anniversary of the EGLSF, reason enough for a second “Building Bridges” conference. The report can be downloaded at www.eglsf.info. At the Euro Games in Munich a workshop on homosexuality and disability was organised in co-operation with the EGLSF.