The outgoing United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, has called for professional footballers at the World Cup in Brazil to come out as gay so that they can be role models for others.
Pillay is finishing up her final year as the UN’s top human rights official after six years in the job and has made advocacy on the behalf of the rights of LGBTI people a hallmark of her time in office.
Pillay told reporters in Geneva on Monday that gay players at the World Cup would reveal themselves and said they should expect to be embraced.
‘I encourage players, sports people to declare their sexual orientation without fear,’ she told reporters, according to Reuters.
‘That’s the only way they will find the right to sexual orientation accepted. They are role models, it’s important to send this message to their fans as well.’
Pillay said it was a shame that in 2014 people still felt they ‘had to hide who they really are.’
Openly gay Los Angeles Galaxy player Robbie Rodgers competed on the US national team at the 2007 World Cup in Canada but he was not openly gay at the time.