Euro Pride House in Warsaw, Poland, has opened its doors to gay sports fans searching for a ‘safe’ venue to watch the Euro 2012 football tournament.
Organized by the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, the initiative aims to tackle homophobia and other forms of discrimination through sport.
Activists, politicians and representatives from the soccer world, as well as supporters, attended the official launch in the capital on Friday (8 June).
Speaking at the event, Louise Englefield, director of the UK’s LGBT Sports Development and Equity organization, relayed messages of support from both UEFA and human rights activists in Ukraine.
She said: ‘It’s not only amazing to have an anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia space open to all at a European Football Championship, but also amazing that it is held for the first time ever in Poland.
‘Of course, Poland elected their first ever gay member of parliament, Robert Biedron and openly trans MP, Anna Grodzka, in November, so it is a country very much changing in terms of its attitudes to human rights for all and I have been very proud to be part of that here this afternoon.’
Running throughout June, events at Euro Pride House will include the screening of soccer matches, a table football tournament and debates.
However, the event comes amid growing concern for the safety of fans visiting Euro 2012 in host countries Poland and Ukraine after violent clashes with the LGBT community during Kyiv’s first ever pride parade.
Euro Pride House co-president, Lou Manders, previously said their event will provide a ‘safe’ haven for gay people to enjoy sport.
The Warsaw initiative is linked to LGBT activism in the Ukraine, where Clare Dimyon from the Pride Solidarity Campaign has also been trying to set up a Euro 2012 Pride House in three out of the four cities hosting matches.
The YOUR Euro Pride House initiative enables LGBT people in Ukraine to hold their own Euro Pride Houses in environments in which they feel safe and at home.
It also gives other European LGBT players, fans and activists the opportunity to engage with Ukrainian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through football.