Feb 24, 2011, 10:05 AM EST
The first gay fan club for Poland’s national soccer team is calling for separate seating at the upcoming European Championships to be held in Poland and the Ukraine next year. Teczowa Trybuna 2012, or Rainbow Stand 2012, says that the special seating is needed to avoid possible violence and discrimination against them from other “traditionally heterosexual” soccer fans.
“Unfortunately, during trips to matches in Poland, we often encountered unpleasantness, harassment and violence from the ‘real’ fans,” reads a statement on their website.
The organization has asked all Euro 2012 organizers, including the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the coach and players of the Polish national team, to support their initiative to create separate sections in all venues for gay fans.
But other gay rights activists criticized the proposal today, saying separate seating would only single gay fans out and put them at even greater risk.
One match venue, the city of Gdansk, rejected the group’s call — saying it would only further stigmatize gays.
Warsaw, Poland elected its first openly gay city official in Nov., when Krystian Legierski was elected to the Warsaw City Council from the city’s Mokotow district. The country, however, is still lagging behind in gay and lesbian rights, says one advocacy group. According to Campaign Against Homophobia, 17 percent of the Polish gay and lesbian community has experienced physical violence, while 50 percent were “followed, insulted or blackmailed because of their sexual orientation.” About 80 percent of crimes motivated by homophobia go unreported in Poland, it says.
I’m not sure what advantage gay soccer fans are going to have with separate seating. Why present a clear target to a fan base that’s capable of this?
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