Soccer

Bad Idea: Gay Soccer Fans Want Special Seating at Euro 2012

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I’ve got nothing at all against gay people. Like Jerry and George said on Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But I sometimes wonder why they’re intent on drawing so much attention to themselves when most of them would like to just live their lives in peace.

Many of them seem to be obsessed in advertising their sexual orientation. Take for instance the European Soccer Championships, better known as Euro 2012, which are to take place in Poland and Ukraine. Gay groups are now demanding they be given their own seating section in the stadiums.

This idea was thought up by a gay supporters club for Poland’s national team, known as Rainbow Stand 2012 or Teczowa Trybuna 2012 if you’re Polish. The club said it should get special seating so its members aren’t subject to discrimination and possible violence by heterosexual fans. The club’s website said its members often encounter problems and harassment at games throughout Poland and are sometimes attacked for their sexual preference.

The group has asked UEFA and the organizers Euro 2012 to support them and has even asked the Polish players and coaches to speak up for them in their quest for special sections in the stadiums. Now, sitting with other gays may make you safe from harassment in the immediate vicinity. You don’t really have to worry about being victimised by the people sitting around, in front of you, and behind you.

But as many other gay rights activists have pointed out, sitting in their own section will just attract attention to them and single them out. This could put them more at risk than just mingling in with other fans. The gay section would make them sitting ducks if anybody decided have a go at them and cause a disturbance. The Polish city of Gdansk has already refused the request from the group for special seating saying it would just stigmatize them even more.

They might have a better chance in Warsaw, as the city’s first openly-gay official was elected back in November. However, Warsaw is quite behind the times when it comes to rights for gays and lesbians. It’s believed that about 17 per cent homosexual Poles have been victims of physical violence and about half of them have had to endure insults.

But just about all soccer fans in Poland are subjected to insults when cheering for the opposition, that’s nothing new. Neither is physical violence unfortunately. The only sensible way to cut down on trouble at soccer games is to keep an open section of seats between rival sets of fans. However, that’s usually the last resort as it means there has to be hundreds or thousands of empty seats between fans.

I have a hard time visualizing a stadium that’s separated into three different sections. One for the home team’s fans, one for the visitors, and one for homosexuals. Why would you want to create a clear target for those opposed to your beliefs?