Building Bridges 3: International conference on Gay & Lesbians in Sport in The Hague05 March 2009

On Friday March, 6th an international conference on Gays and Lesbians in sport is to be held in The Hague, the Netherlands. The event will give organisations across Europe the opportunity to present examples of good practice that stimulate a gay-friendly sport environment under the central slogan ‘Building Bridges’.

The conference will look at examples of homophobia in sport, the various activities and campaigns which can be used to combat homophobia and effective methods in both top level sport and grassroots sport clubs. Speakers representing the European Union, The Dutch Olympic Committee, UEFA and the German and English Football Associations will all be on hand to participate in workshops where specific elements will be further evaluated and discussed.

The conference will start at 10.30am with an introduction from European Member of Parliament Kathelijne Buitenweg together with Bert Van Alphen, Alderman for Welfare, Public Health and Emancipation. Around 17.00 Judith Schuijf, chairperson for Homosport Nederland, will close the meeting.

Anne Jensen, co-president of the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation said: ”It is well-known that homosexuality is still a taboo in top sport. Only a few active top athletes are openly gay or lesbian”.

The panel will be joined by Pedro Velázquez, Deputy Head of the Sport Unit – Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, and William Gaillard, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for UEFA and Senior Advisor the President of the UEFA, Michael Platini.

In sports, managers, media and supporters often openly show homophobia without – until now – being criticised for it. Research shows that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender athletes that perform sports in amateur clubs normally hide their sexual orientation from team mates. To enable people to be themselves and perform sport without comments whatsoever, gay and lesbian sport groups were founded and tournaments organised like the EuroGames, Outgames and Gay Games.

Homosport Nederland is organising the conference in co-operation with the The Hague city council, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) and Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE).

The event marks the 20th anniversary of the EGLSF.