Footballer denounces sport homophobia
Published: 02 Aug 2007 09:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Aug 2007 09:11 GMT+02:00
The Nordic region's largest gay pride event, Stockholm Pride, was officially opened on Wednesday by former Liverpool and Sweden footballer Glenn Hysén, who spoke of the problem of homophobia in sport.
"Sometimes, sport turns us into good team players, but sometimes sport turns us into anxious homophobic herd animals," he said.
Hysén's suitability as a speaker at Pride has been questioned in the press, due to an incident in a toilet at Frankfurt Airport in 2001, in which he thumped a man who molested him. Hysén started his speech by meeting his critics head on:
"I know that many LGBT people have been the victims of assaults and hate crimes. I can therefore understand if some people have been upset by the airport incident, so I want to be clear: I think that it is completely unacceptable that anybody should be subjected to assaults, insults or hate crimes due to their sexual orientation or gender identity," he said.
The incident had been blown out of proportion in the media, Hysén added.
"In order to finally flush the Frankfurt Airport punch down the toilet: it is not the case that I beat up a gay person. I categorically deny that," he said.
"I'm not proud that I took a swing at him, but I am proud that I have integrity and that I reacted."
Hysén also spoke about the need for sporting movements to expunge prejudices about gay, bisexual and transsexual people.
"Too few of us who love sport bother to question sport's values. This is why we adults within sport have a particular responsibility to bring up all girls and boys in a liberal and unprejudiced climate.
The other speaker at the opening of Stockholm Pride was Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth. She argued that in 2007 it was wrong that gay couples' financial and legal rights were protected by separate laws.
"It is time to merge the marriage laws and the law on registered partnership into one set of cohabitation laws. Homosexuals naturally have the same need for security, both financial and legal," she said.
Click here for full information in English about Stockholm Pride.