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UEFA chief attends gay celebration at Euro 2012

Soccer executive confirms commitment to battling homophobia at gay ‘pride’ reception in Donetsk, Ukraine as country hosts Euro 2012
Guests celebrating at a gay reception for Euro 2012 in Donetsk, designed to show solidarity with LGBT Ukrainians.

A UEFA chief has emphasized the organizations commitment to tackling homophobia at a gay reception hosted in the Ukraine.

He was joined by soccer fans from France, Spain, Portugal and Austria at the party hosted by British lesbian activist Claire Dimyon where he met members of the LGBT community in Donetsk.

Together they toasted gay pride and Ukrainian Constitution Day, which is on 28 June, at the party last night (26 June).

Patrick Gasser, who heads UEFA’s football and social responsibility unit, said: ‘I am here to confirm our commitment to oppose all forms of discrimination, all homophobia and all racism. I am delighted to participate in the special celebration of pride.’

UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations) is the governing body behind the Euro 2012 continent-wide soccer championship.

Dimyon said they drank sparkling wine from across the Ukraine to send a ‘message of love and hope and support’ to Ukrainian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to let them know that they are not alone.

She added they were still ‘hurting’ from the assaults on gay Kyiv pride organizers Svyatoslav Sheremet and Taras Karasiychuk a month and three days ago.

But she added: ‘We are also grieving the probably thousands of young LGBT people across Ukraine who have no English and no internet connection to make any sense of their identity. I believe the suicide rates to be catastrophic for our people. Today, we celebrate Ukrainian independence and the promise of the Ukrainian constitution and look forward to the day when LGBT people within the Ukraine can claim their full rights and responsibilities as Ukrainian citizens.

‘There is no doubt of the challenge but also significant signs of openness and Ukrainian allies for LGBT people, who may currently be too afraid to speak up.’

Dimyon has spent recent weeks visiting LGBT activists and attending Euro 2012 events to wave the gay rainbow flag and rally football fans to the gay rights cause.

She said: ‘Rainbow flags have been to the Kyiv Olympic Stadium, the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv and the Donbass Stadium in Donetsk under the warm protection of fans from the countries of the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Spain. In the fanzone in Donetsk I also “came out” to a Russian, who was a bit surprised and then embraced me most warmly.’

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