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Activists urge Merkel to give Ukraine and Euro 2012 red card

German gay footballer Marcus Urban backs campaign for Chancellor Angela Merkel to boycott football tournament in Ukraine and Poland
Angela Merkel (left) with Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych

Activists are calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to boycott the Euro 2012 football tournament over an anti-gay bill in host country Ukraine.

Over 18,000 people have signed AllOut.org's letter to the German leader urging her to join French president François Hollande in refusing to attend the championship and pressure Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych to denounce the 'gay gag' law, currently being debated in the country's parliament.

The bill, similar to the one passed in St Petersburg, would amend existing laws on ‘the protection of morals’, media and publishing, as well as the criminal code, effectively banning virtually all information on gay and bisexual issues and criminalizing LGBT human rights work in Ukraine.

Marcus Urban, Germany's first openly gay footballer, is backing the campaign and will deliver the letter to Mrs Merkel tomorrow (7 June).

'Germany is Ukraine's key partner and has a huge influence on the country,' the petition reads.

'If we can convince Chancellor Angela Merkel to follow the trend and also boycott, it will make headlines everywhere and pressure Yanukovych to finally denounce the laws in his Parliament that want to make saying "gay" illegal.'

More than 70,000 people signed a previous AllOut.org petition which urged Yanukovych to stand up for LGBT rights and speak out against the bill.

Kyiv's first ever gay pride parade was cancelled on 20 May after a threat of violence from right-wing football hooligans and the event's organizer Svyatoslav Sheremet was later beaten by thugs.

Euro 2012 will start on Friday (8 June) in Ukraine and Poland.

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