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Asian LGBTI sports competition receives Federation of Gay Games sponsorship for first time in 15 years

Asian LGBTI sports competition receives Federation of Gay Games sponsorship for first time in 15 years

The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) has stepped in as a sponsor for an Asian LGBTI sporting event this year.

The Straits Games (TSG), an annual sports competition started in Asia for LGBTIs since 2002, was held earlier this month in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. This year’s event, also TSG’s 15th anniversary, saw a total of 150 sportsmen and 15 supporters from 10 different countries in Asia participating in five sporting events – badminton, bowling, indoor volleyball, park fun run and swimming.

‘We wanted to sponsor TSG as the ‘Global Sports Event Partner’ because it fits our mission of encouraging and supporting LGBT+ sport around the world as well as spreading the word to LGBT+ sports and cultural communities about the Gay Games,’ said FGG’s Director of International Development, Leviathen Hendricks.

Hendricks added: ‘We know there are huge and growing numbers of LGBT+ people playing sport, both in teams and as individuals, across Asia, yet historically participation in the Gay Games has not been as high from Asian countries as from North American and European countries.’

This is the first time TSG has received any form of sponsorship from FGG – although Hendricks’s predecessor in his role has attended previous editions of TSG and the organization, according to Hendricks, had been aware of TSG for some time.

FGG, which was started in 1982, is a federation of sports and cultural organizations from across the world. The all-volunteer non-profit organization is currently represented by 29 countries and six continents, and is the main organizer of the Gay Games – an international sporting event for LGBTIs that takes place in different cities every four years. The next Gay Games will be held in Paris in August 2018.

TSG is currently not a member under the federation, but has been extended the invitation to officially join FGG, according to Hendricks.

Besides being a sponsor for this year’s TSG, FGG will also be presenting TSG’s representative Ivan Yap with a medal of commendation at their Annual General Assembly meeting in Sydney next month.

‘This is to recognize and applaud the vision, tenacity, volunteerism and merit of TSG achieving 15 consecutive years of holding multi-national LGBT sports festivals,’ said Hendricks.

He added: ‘Something that is to be commended and held up as a source of inspiration for others around the world.’

Yap, this year’s TSG organizer, could not be reached in time for comment.

However, organizer for next year’s TSG Kedung Soejaya, echoed Hendricks’s thoughts of the importance of Asian participation in the Gay Games.

‘[It is important] especially for those who have never attended [the Gay Games], and also for those who have many limitations in their countries [as LGBTIs],’ said Soejaya.

He added: ‘The experience may become a good precedent for them to understand the impact [of the Gay Games] and also maybe to conduct [similar events] in smaller scales back in their countries.’

Soejaya has plans to increase the awareness of Gay Games in next year’s TSG, including emphasizing the invitation to register for Gay Games before each TSG event and putting more of FGG’s communication materials – such as standing banners – around the various TSG sporting venues to increase visibility of the Gay Games.

TSG will be held in Bali, Indonesia next year.