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United Nations Calls on Gay World Cup Players to Come Out

United Nations Human Rights commissioner Navi Pillay said Monday that gay soccer players at the World Cup in Brazil should come out and declare their sexuality to help foster global LGBT visibility and equality.

Navi pillayReuters reports:

"I encourage players, sports people to declare their sexual orientation without fear," she told reporters in Geneva.

"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, adding that it was "a shame, in this day and age", that people "had to hide who they really are".

Pillay also warned that governments bidding for major sporting competitions need to give more thought to how their bid would affect human rights in their country. 

"They risk becoming hubs of human rights violations, including misuse of public funds, child labour, forced evictions, and demolition and the sexual exploitation of human beings including children in the surge of tourism," Pillay said, without naming any particular city.

The UN's concerns over the intersection of human rights and sporting events will likely continue into the foreseeable future as FIFA’s decision to select Qatar as host country for the 2022 World Cup has come under heavy criticism – at least in part due to the country’s laws making homosexuality illegal.

There are currently no openly gay players participating in this year’s World Cup, although a few former athletes such as Germany’s Thomas Hitzlsperger and our own Robbie Rogers played in the World Cup before coming out. 


John Oliver Slams Qatar’s Selection as World Cup Host By ‘Comically Grotesque' FIFA: VIDEO

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On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took aim at the FIFA bribery scandal and applied his “sausage principle”– the theory that says if you love something, never find out how it was made - to his beloved World Cup.

Oliver went on to criticize FIFA’s decision to choose Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, stating that there are “between one and fifty reasons why that is a horrible idea” Among those reasons listed are the country’s scorching temperatures and its slave state working conditions, with presumably one of the other 48 reasons being that homosexuality remains illegal in the country.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP… 

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Ricky Martin's 'Vida' Heats Up The 2014 World Cup And Brazil's Beaches - VIDEO

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After his recent stint as a superhero, Ricky Martin produced a bilingual feel-good song called "Vida" with dancey, Latin beats as part of the 2014 World Cup official soundtrack.

It’s quite catchy and the video (which was shot in Brazil) has a quick shot of two hunky beach-goers affectionately holding hands — awwwww!

Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP…

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Call For World Cup Boycott In Response To Qatar's 'Gay Test'

Qatar Stadium

Last month we told you about how the new FIFA anti-discrimination task force is already on the job to hold Russia and Qatar accountable for their anti-gay laws given that both nations will be hosting the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. The task force is going to have their work cut out for them now that Qatar, along with several other Persian Gulf countries, has put in place a medical "gay test" to screen out homosexual visitors to their country.

In the wake of such absurdity, LGBT activist Peter Tatchell is calling for an out-and-out boycott of the country, insisting that the World Cup in Qatar be canceled.

"This contradicts previous assurances given to FIFA by the Qatar government that everyone will be welcome and that there will be no discrimination," [Tatchell] said.

"FIFA now has no option but to cancel the world cup in Qatar. Allowing it to go head in these circumstances would involve FIFA colluding with homophobic discrimination."

A FIFA spokesperson said that they are "not aware about the specific matter" of the proposed legislation, but "FIFA's zero tolerance policy towards any acts of racism and discrimination affecting the freedom of private persons - including their sexual and political freedom - applies to the FIFA World Cup and to all other FIFA events and activities."


FIFA's Anti-Discrimination Taskforce Seeks to Pressure Russia and Qatar Over Anti-gay Laws

As businesses, organizations, and high profile individuals continue to voice their opposition to LGBT human rights abuses in Russia, it seems increasingly clear that 'anti-gay' is becoming an undesirable label for countries to hold, at least from an economic and public relations perspective.

The Guardian reports that with the World Cup scheduled to take place in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively, FIFA's new anti-discrimination taskforce is joining in the fight to ensure those nations are held accountable for their anti-gay laws:

Piara PowarPiara Powar (pictured), the director of Football Against Racism in Europe and a member of the taskforce along with the former FA chairman David Bernstein, said it would raise the issue at a meeting this week.

"Qatar is one of the few countries where homosexuality is still illegal and there are also big challenges in terms of the new law in Russia in regard to the World Cup," he said.

"Qatar wants to host the tournament at the start of a new decade, they will want to present an internationally welcoming face and with FIFA's help we are sure it will be possible to win over the Qataris so that they come into line with the rest of the world, including other countries in the Gulf and Middle East and change the law on homosexuality.

"These are issues of civil rights, fans and players of all races, religions and sexuality need to feel comfortable going to the World Cups in both Russia and Qatar. It is going to be quite a challenge but we have to make sure that football becomes the vehicle for social change that we claim it is. This is a big issue."

While the taskforce is eager to begin work combating anti-gay discrimination, FIFA's leadership seems less enthusiastic. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who refused to comment on the issue at the ongoing International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires, sparked a firestorm in 2011 when he joked that gay people should "refrain from sexual activity" during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

[photo credit: Matthew Ashton/EMPICS]


Russian Anti-Gay Policies 'Could Kill Its Cities'

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Russia has undergone no shortage of bad press in recent months. Its newly adopted anti-gay propaganda hve prompted outrage the world over, and have already put a damper on events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, months or even years in advance. 

Now, The Atlantic is reporting that Lansing, Michigan, is joining the growing list of global municipalities that are loooking to sever ties with their Russian "sister cities", which already includes the likes of Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Reykjavik. Thus, as Russia inists on moving contrary to the global march toward human rights, the consequences could prove to have political and economic impact:

"St. Petersburg was, for hundreds of years, a city that took pride in its relative openness to global culture. When Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, he envisioned it as a "window on the West," a place where the values of the Enlightenment could be explored and celebrated. It was designed and built by the finest talents from around the world.

"Now, St. Petersburg is leading the way backward. Russia and its cities, by pursuing draconian anti-gay policies, are shutting themselves out of a global community where the benefits of an open society are ever more apparent."

Stolichnaya-1280x960It's no secret that international events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have the potential to generate a host of financial benefits for its host city and host nation. This is, of course, why so many cities vie for a chance to host such events. That said, should hosting a global event prove to be the potential source of controversy for the event's governing body, it would almost certainly deter them from coming back to that same city of country in the future. That's also not counting international boycotts of Russian products, which already have large companies such as SPI Group looking for ways to completely sever ties with the anti-gay nation. Let's also not forget the tourism dollars that Russia stands to lose in the future, from both gay tourists as well as those whom support human rights in general.

Finally, as The Atlantic illustrated by presenting the story of journalist and activist Masha Gessen, Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted an exodus of gay citizens, as well as their advocates. This only exacerbates the country's appartent desire "to shut down intellectually," and cost the country potentially vital intellectual capital. Thus, while the short term costs of losing "sister city" partnerships may be small, in the words of The Atlantic, "They are losing their future."


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