Italian midfielder Claudio Marchisio backs equal marriage19 June 2012

On the day of Italy’s decisive match against Ireland to proceed to the quarter-finals of the Euro 2012 championship, Claudio Marchisio, one of the team’s midfielders, has spoken out in favour of equal marriage rights for gay couples. His statement in favour of gay rights comes only a week after a team-mate said he hoped there were no gays on their team.

Antonio Cassano, Marchisio’s team-mate on the squad had said last week he hoped there were no “queers” on the team.

The 26-year-old Juventus player who backed FARE’s Action Weeks in 2011 told an Italian magazine: “Personally, I agree with marriage between persons of the same sex. But in our particular environment, in fact, the topic is a bit rigid. If someone comes out at their workplace, fortunately it is no longer a sensation. Doing so at a football training camp, however, one cannot imagine the same scene. It is not fair.

“In terms of adopting children, I find that instinctively the more traditional figures are those of a man and woman. I tend to think that children need balance, but it’s a complicated issue. It cannot be argued that a heterosexual couple can necessarily be able to provide more love to a child.”

LGBT rights and the treatment of people from the rainbow community in the host countries have been a hotly debated issue since before the tournament started in Poland and Ukraine. Ukraine saw some severe attacks on people of the LGBT community.

The pride march in Kyiv was cancelled in May for 500 ultra-right football hooligans were en route to the rally point intending to stop it. Anti-parade protesters disrupted the press-conference with tear gas and two organisers were attacked and hospitalised. The previous day vandals had attacked an LGBT photo exhibition, damaging many of the artworks at Kiev’s Visual Culture Research Center.

In response to these incidents and part of a wider programme of anti-discrimination activity during Euro2012 FARE partner, the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) launched the Pride House in Warsaw which is an anti-homophobia space for football fans to gather, watch football and network close to the National Stadium.