Showing posts with label Investigative Reports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Investigative Reports. Show all posts

January 28, 2020

South Korea is Our Ally, Defacto Part of NATO Yet The Homophobia There Is Equal to Ours in 1960

Image result for south korea is very anti gay
 Being LGBT in South Korea can make for a difficult life. CNN's Kathy Novak tells the story of one gay couple living in Seoul and the challenges they face.
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On a brightly lit stage, two male K-pop stars with glowing skin and perfectly coiffed hair are nibbling either end of the same long, chocolate stick. 
As the stick gets smaller and smaller, they get closer and closer -- and eventually, a fellow K-pop idol pulls them into a kiss
In South Korea's glitzy, highly manufactured music industry, these kinds of scenes are not uncommon. As long as it's only for show, that is.
Homophobia is still rife in South Korea, where very few mainstream music stars have come out as gay. The country has no comprehensive anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ South Koreans and compared to nearby democracies like Japan and Taiwan, the country is less accepting of same-sex couples. (CNN)

In Seoul, many people enjoy the annual Queer Culture Festival, regardless of their sexual orientation. Started with only 50 people in 2000, nearly 150,000 people enjoyed the festival last year, which marked its 20th anniversary. During the festival, participants urge the government to improve LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights.
While many people hold rainbow flags during the festival, some Christian groups stage anti-LGBT demonstrations. They hang banners declaring that homosexuality is sin, same-sex unions would spread AIDS across the country, and gay unions would create chaos in Korean society. Christians, however, are not the only people who oppose the LGBT community in South Korea. A recent controversy over a transgender soldier suggests that many Koreans are still hostile to gender minorities.
Last week, Byun Hui-su, a transgender tank driver, drew public attention after she was discharged from the Republic of Korea Army after undergoing sex-reassignment surgery. While South Korea bans transgenders from joining the army, it doesn’t have any rule about soldiers who had a sex-reassignment operation while already serving. And until the Byun case, no one in the military had ever changed his or her sex while serving, so this case was unprecedented, and it became headline news. 
Byun said she wanted to serve as a female soldier, but army officials ignored her plea. The army explained that it decided to discharge Byun because of her “mental and physical disabilities.” An army official claimed that the sex-reassignment operation itself didn’t affect the decision. 
At a press conference, Byun said she wanted to prove that anyone can be a great soldier regardless of gender identity. She also charged that the South Korean army still lacks respect for sexual minorities. And she sued the army for discharging her.
Lim Tae-hoon, leader of the Center for Military Human Rights, announced that he supported Byun, opining that the army’s decision to discharge the tank driver was a violation of human rights. “The National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea has to warn against the human-rights abuses, including Byun’s case. And all transgenders should be allowed to serve in the army without discrimination,” Lim said.
But on the Internet, netizens have denounced Byun: The army is right to discharge Byun; the tank driver is selfish and stupid to make a plea to the army, one of the most conservative organizations in Korea, to accept her as a female soldier; other female soldiers won’t want to serve in the army alongside transgenders.
Before Byun’s case was reported, some political powerhouses, right-wingers in particular, provoked controversy by making crass comments against the LGBT community. Last May, Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, said he hated homosexuality. “I was shocked by queer festivals in Korea. I hate the LGBT community. I think Korean society has to oppose homosexuality,” Hwang said. Keum Tae-sup, a politician with the ruling Democratic Party, criticized Hwang’s provocative remarks, saying his homophobic remarks sounded ridiculous.
In November, lawmakers in the Liberty Korea Party, including Ahn Sang-soo, proposed an amendment that would remove sexual minorities from those who are protected from discrimination under the National Human Rights Act. Ahn underscored his view with  controversial remarks: While the world witnesses a surge of AIDS infections, few people can criticize homosexuality because of the National Human Rights Act; it’s unfair to regard criticism against homosexuality as discrimination. Many condemned the proposed amendment and Ahn’s comments as justifying discrimination against LGBT people. 
Last year, for the first time in Asia, Taiwan legalized gay marriage. When the legislature started to debate the motion, politician Jason Hsu said Taiwan was 10 years behind in respect to the LGBT rights. But Byun’s case and some Korean politicians’ comments against homosexuality indicate that South Korea is not just behind but is going backward.

September 17, 2019

Cokie Roberts, Dead at 75

"A great loss"

Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, who joined an upstart NPR in 1978 and left an indelible imprint on the growing network with her coverage of Washington politics before later going to ABC News, has died. She was 75.
Roberts died Tuesday due to complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement.
A bestselling author and Emmy Award winner, Roberts was one of NPR's most recognizable voices and is considered one of a handful of pioneering female journalists — along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg — who helped shape the public broadcaster's sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism.

Having so many female voices at a national broadcaster was nothing short of revolutionary in the 1970s, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson recalled in an interview with The Daily Princetonian earlier this year.
"[W]e called them the Founding Mothers of NPR, or sometimes we called them the Fallopian Club," she said.
Liaison said it wasn't so much that NPR had a mission for gender equality, but that the network's pay, which was well below the commercial networks of the day, resulted in "a lot of really great women who were in prominent positions there and who helped other women."
By the time Roberts joined ABC News in 1988 — while retaining a part-time role as a political commentator at NPR that she maintained until her death — women were increasingly commonplace at broadcast networks and newspapers.
Roberts, the daughter of former U.S. representatives, grew up walking the halls of Congress and absorbing the personalities, folkways and behind-the-scenes machinations of the nation's capital. She became a seasoned Washington insider who developed a distinctive voice as a reporter and commentator.
In a 2017 interview with Kentucky Educational Television, Roberts reflected on her long career.
"It is such a privilege — you have a front seat to history," she said. "You do get used to it, and you shouldn't because it is a very special thing to be able to be in the room ... when all kinds of special things are happening."
Although she was the only member of her immediate family not to run for Congress, Roberts considered her role as a journalist and political analyst as her way of giving back.
"I do feel strongly that informing the voters about what's going on, trying to explain it in ways that people can understand and putting the issues out there is a form of participation," Roberts told KET.
Political journalist George Will, who worked with Roberts on ABC's This Week, said Roberts was not just born to the political class but was a natural inhabitant.
"She liked people on both sides of the aisle and had friends on both sides of the aisle," Will told NPR. "If you don't like the game of politics, I don't see how you write about it well," he said. "She liked the game of politics and she understood that it was a game."
Born in New Orleans as Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, she was given the nickname Cokie by her brother, Thomas, who had trouble pronouncing Corinne.
Roberts' father was Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., a former Democratic majority leader of the House who served in Congress for more than three decades before he disappeared on a campaign flight in Alaska in 1972. Her mother, Lindy Claiborne Boggs, took her husband's seat and served for 17 years. Lindy Boggs also served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
Roberts split her time between Louisiana and Washington as a child and attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her first job was at the Washington television station WRC-TV, where she hosted a public affairs program called Meeting of Minds. 
She married journalist Steven V. Roberts in 1966. After holding a number of other broadcast jobs, she and her husband moved in the early 1970s to Athens, Greece, where he worked for The New York Times and she filed radio stories as a freelance correspondent for CBS.
In 1977, Roberts and her family returned to Washington, where she took a job with a then-almost unknown NPR. She served as NPR's congressional correspondent for more than 10 years. While in that role, she was also a contributor to PBS' The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.
Roberts left NPR in 1988 to become a political correspondent for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. She was also a regular fill-in anchor for Ted Koppel on Nightline. From 1992 to 2002, Roberts co-anchored ABC News' Sunday morning show This Week alongside Sam Donaldson.
Will said that although Washington is a "town of short leases," with people constantly coming and going, Roberts represented permanent Washington, a kind of figure who was constant through decades of political change: "Washington not often denounced by people who denounce Washington because they don't know it exists," Will said. "Cokie represented the durable, ongoing Washington that is a custodian of the manners of the city and the sociability of the city that makes it really function."
Roberts won numerous awards during her long career in journalism, including three Emmys and the Edward R. Murrow award. She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. She was recognized by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting.
"Much of Cokie Roberts' fame and credibility resides in her image as a rough-and-trouble woman capable of giving as good as she gets in the equally rough-and-tumble world of male-dominated politics," Dan Nimmo wrote in Political Commentators in the United States in the 20th Century.
Roberts said she would often offer this advice to younger women navigating political journalism in Washington: "Duck and file," Roberts said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation.
"Don't get all involved in the politics of your institution, or competition in your institution. Just do your work and get it on the air, and then people will see if you're good," she said.
Roberts was the author of six books, most recently Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868, which examined the role of powerful women in the Civil War era.
As a commentator, Roberts sometimes walked a line that threatened to eclipse her role as a dispassionate journalist. In a February 2016 op-ed co-authored with her husband, Roberts called on "the rational wing" of the Republican Party to stop the nomination of Donald Trump. 
"[Trump] is one of the least qualified candidates ever to make a serious run for the presidency," Roberts and her husband wrote. "If he is nominated by a major party — let alone elected — the reputation of the United States would suffer a devastating blow around the world."
In interviews, Roberts often said she might have run for public office herself but thought she would spare her journalist husband the difficulty of what could be an awkward dynamic.
"I have always felt semi-guilty about it. But I've sort of assuaged my guilt by writing about it and feeling like I'm educating people about the government and how to be good voters and good citizens," Roberts told The Washington Post in March.
"In covering Congress, there's plenty of times when I felt, you know, the mother line: I don't care who started it, I'm stopping it. So, to be in a position where you could do that," Roberts told the newspaper.
"It's a great luxury to sit on the outside and analyze, or even give your opinion about how it could be fixed," she said.
NPR's Barry Gordemer contributed to this report.

September 14, 2016

NY Attorney General Starts Inquiry into Trump and His “Foundation”

 Trump with Fl.Attorney General Bondi, a supporter. His foundation donated $25, 000 to a political group related to her and almost immediately she decided against investigating Trump University for bilking thousands of dollars for non existing courses. It’s against the law for non profits to donate to political groups.

The office of New York state's top prosecutor has made inquiries into Donald Trump's nonprofit foundation after questions about impropriety.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed the inquiry on Tuesday, telling CNN that "we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety," although he did not go into detail.

"We've inquired into it and we've had correspondence with them," Schneiderman said. "I didn't make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference. We have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it's complying with the laws governing charities in New York."

A source familiar with the matter later told NBC News that correspondence with the foundation began on June 9.

In response to the news, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller released a statement calling Schneiderman "a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President."

He also called the inquiry a "left-wing hit job."

The New York Attorney General's Charities Bureau, which oversees regulating nonprofits in the state, has asked about a $25,000 donation the Trump Foundation made in September 2013 to "And Justice for All" — a political group connected to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

All nonprofits are barred from making politically-related contributions.

The Trump Foundation had 20 days to answer the Charities Bureau's letter. While the Trump campaign has previously declined to comment about the case, Trump during a campaign stop Monday in Ohio dismissed questions about the contribution, according to The Washington Post.

Trump paid a $2,500 penalty for failing to disclose the gift to the Internal Revenue Service, and representatives for the Trump Organization said he also paid back $25,000 to the foundation after the media began asking questions, the newspaper reported.

Trump Foundation treasurer Allen Weisselberg wrote in a June 28 letter to the attorney general that the error was first realized in March and was a "case of mistaken identity involving organizations with the same name."

Other questions by the attorney general had to do with the Trump Foundation supposedly paying $20,000 for a six-foot-tall portrait of Trump and four separate charities claiming they never received donations that the foundation said it gifted them.

The amounts that the foundation said it donated included a $10,000 contribution in 2008, $5,000 in 2010 and $10,000 in 2012, according to The Post, which reported about the discrepancies last week.

The portrait was referenced by President Barack Obama on Tuesday while he stumped for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia.

"One candidate's family foundation has saved countless lives around the world," Obama said, referring to the Democratic presidential nominee's own charitable foundation run with former President Bill Clinton.

"The other candidate's foundation took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a 6-foot-tall painting of himself. I mean, he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version," Obama quipped.

Schneiderman, a Democrat who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and raised money for her campaign, has previously gone after one of Trump's ventures.

In 2013, he filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Trump University claiming the online school had fleeced would-be real estate investors.

That trial is going forward, and another fraud trial against Trump University in a San Diego court is scheduled to begin Nov. 28.


August 17, 2016

Amnesty International’s HRC Being Investigated by India for Sedition

Police confront Kashmiri rapper MC Kash at an Amnesty event in Bangalore on Saturday

Sedition=Condcut or speech inciting people to rebel against the state (not used in Democracies but 
Obviously India likes to swing both ways).
Amnesty International, the human rights campaign group, is being investigated by Indian police for alleged sedition after its local activists held a public meeting to discuss abuses by Indian security forces in the troubled Kashmir valley. 

The weekend meeting in Bangalore, the hub of India’s information technology industry, was intended to raise public awareness about the civilian toll of a brutal conflict between separatist militants and security forces that has claimed at least 44,000 lives since 1989.
But during the event, part of a campaign to hold Indian security forces to account for rapes, extrajudicial killings and other abuses in Kashmir, some participants shouted azadi, which means freedom and is the slogan of Kashmiri separatists seeking an end to Indian rule.

Bangalore police have launched a formal criminal investigation against Amnesty, acting on a complaint from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student arm of the rightwing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party.
The authorities are investigating whether Amnesty activists can be formally charged with sedition, as well as crimes such as unlawful assembly, rioting and “promoting enmity”, and also trying to identify those responsible for the meeting. 

The investigation comes as residents of the troubled Kashmir valley endure their 39th consecutive day of a strict curfew — during which schools, businesses, public transport and all normal life has been shut down as Indian security forces try to quell violent mass protests triggered by the July killing of a prominent separatist militant. About 60 people have been killed — and scores blinded by police pellets — during the weeks of unrest. 

The furore echoes recent controversies over the limits of acceptable speech in India, especially as it pertains to controversial subjects such as Kashmir, with its long-running separatist insurgency, and New Delhi’s use of the death penalty.

Amnesty’s India arm, which had notified the police about the weekend event in Bangalore, said it had yet to receive a copy of the complaint. But activists described the police probe as an attempt to curb freedom of expression. 

“Merely organising an event to defend constitutional values is now being branded ‘anti-India’ and criminalised,” said Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International India. 
In its statement, Amnesty said it did not take a stand on demands for self-determination but believed in citizens’ right to peacefully campaign for police change, so long as such advocacy did not incite violence.

In February New Delhi police arrested eight students of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University for alleged sedition, after they led a campus protest against the 2013 execution of a Kashmiri convicted of terror offenses.
Just a month earlier, India was rocked by the suicide of a Hyderabad University PhD student who had been banned from the campus — and had his scholarship money cut off for months — after a squabble with ABVP activists over another protest against capital punishment.

Amy Kazmin in New Delhi

I’ll keep you posted how this ridiculous investigation goes. My guess is that is being used in the same they are used in the same way some in the United States use investigations to intimidate people so they can maybe bend more of your way instead of the truth’s way. Knowing Amnesty International and how dedicated these people are I think the technocrat who made this decision might be disappointed.

February 16, 2014

Coming Out of The Closet (one Source Investigation)

Goal Investigates 
: Those leading the battle to eliminate the sport’s ‘final taboo' reveal what is being done to create an atmosphere in which players feel comfortable coming out

In the history of the game, only one English professional footballer has ever publicly declared his homosexuality.

That man was Justin Fashanu, and it was a little more than 23 years ago. Still, there is a growing feeling within the game that football's fight against homophobia is finally starting to gather real momentum.

This month, for the first time, Football v Homophobia is undertaking its ‘month of action’ with the support of the Premier League’s four biggest clubs. Chelsea and Manchester United joined long-term backers Arsenal and Manchester City last week, adding their names to a list of over 30 professional clubs which is growing by the day and has already surpassed last season’s total.

It is a groundswell rising directly from Thomas Hitzlsperger’s decision to come out in interviews with German newspaper Die Zeit and The Guardian last month.

Hitzlsperger’s admission made global headlines with the after-effects rippling through the English game, making a media star of Liam Davis, the Gainsborough Trinity player who came out four years ago and remains the only openly gay male footballer still plying his trade at any level in this country.


"We still have a long way to go because we fear a reaction and we don't know what will happen. I can't imagine playing football and doing this [coming out] at the same time."


"If I found out that one of my players was gay I would throw him off the team."


"I don’t think I have ever played with a homosexual player. But if Juve bought one, my only wish is that he’d win us games."


"I've been fortunate enough to return to the game, this time as an out and proud gay man, knowing full well that my actions could be of help to another young Robbie Rogers, whether his first love is soccer or science or fashion or all of the above."


"Queers in the [Italy] national team? That's their business. But I hope [there are none]."


"It's really important for me to speak out as a gay player because there are so many people struggling who are gay, and you hear about people taking their own lives because they are homosexual. That should never happen."


"I never believed there was anything wrong with being gay, but I felt that if it came to be accepted that I was, I would be unable to continue as a professional footballer. That is how deep-seated the prejudice is."


"I know that if anyone [came out] at a club which I was playing at, then they would have nothing but full support from myself and certainly from this dressing room as well."


"Who would honestly care if there was a guy in your team who scored every goal for you, and he happened to be gay? Why would what he does in private bother you? If you perform it shouldn’t matter."


"[A gay player] would play as if they had been liberated [if they came out]. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic."


"I personally hope that over the next 10 years I’m not the only gay footballer [still playing]. Nobody wants to be forced out, but I hope they can look and see there is someone out there who has done it."


"There is a problem if young homosexuals who love football have to quit the sport because they feel excluded. Homosexuals are in need of a hero. They are in need of someone who dares to stand up for their sexuality."


"God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Yves."


“I'd say [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities [in Qatar in 2022].”
England women’s captain Casey Stoney also revealed her sexuality publicly on Monday, and the level of media coverage granted to all three has been matched only by its overwhelming positivity.

As Funke Awoderu, the Football Association’s equalities manager, told Goal: "Football is coming out of the closet. 

“The issue is far more alive now, partly because society is far more accepting. You can’t divorce football and sport and society, and so because legislation has moved on, we’ve moved on.”

Megan Worthing-Davies, Football v Homophobia director, believes recent advances signify that football is finally waking up to the need to confront its final taboo.

“I think it’s indicative of clubs realising the need to do more around this issue,” she insists. “There has been a slowness within football to take the kind of action we’ve witnessed around racism in the game. But with the campaign against racism so well established and ingrained, there is a growing appreciation for the importance of tackling homophobia.”

Contrast the attitudes in 2014 to those in the 1990s - the decade in which Fashanu came out in a newspaper interview.

In 1997, the same year football's 'Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football' campaign became Kick It Out with core funding from the Football Association, Fashanu called time on a career which had seen him repeatedly subjected to racist and homophobic abuse. 

He committed suicide a year later in the knowledge that while the sport he loved was tackling one cause of his suffering, it remained in denial about another.

Graeme Le Saux, a husband and father wrongly identified as gay as a player, had been suffering abuse from fellow players and supporters for years before Robbie Fowler infamously goaded him during Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in February 1999.

Le Saux was booked for time-wasting by referee Paul Durkin as he delayed taking a free-kick to implore the match officials to take action, and both men were charged with misconduct by the Football Association for their part in the violent on-pitch clashes which followed. No great example was made of Fowler - who apologised for the incident only late last year - no great stand taken against the attitude his actions reinforced.

Indeed, despite Kick It Out boasting an expanded remit to cover all forms of discrimination and successfully establishing itself as football’s equality and inclusion campaign, it was not until 2010 that the sport could boast an initiative aimed squarely at tackling homophobia. 

Football v Homophobia attracted support from the FA in 2011 and has been making steady gains ever since, but recent months have seen the most significant progress.

The fight for equality has also been boosted by what appears to be a growing acceptance from those within football of homosexuality and gay players.

A year ago West Ham winger Matt Jarvis became only the third footballer to pose for the cover of Attitude, Britain’s best-selling gay magazine. Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy and Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon have both insisted they would welcome a gay team-mate, while Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez believes “being gay should no longer be a taboo topic”. 

Such comments are in stark contrast to when Luiz Felipe Scolari stated in the run-up to his World Cup-winning campaign with Brazil in 2002 that he would throw any player he found to be gay out of his team.

Gay rights charity Stonewall and Paddy Power’s rainbow laces initiative in September also brought the issue into sharper focus. England international Phil Jagielka wore the laces along with Everton team-mate Tm Howard, QPR’s Joey Barton and several others, and the campaign is widely expected to run again next season after wider consultation.

“You couldn’t be anything but impressed with the amount of support it received, especially given the short lead-in time and the fact they had high-profile backers such as Gary Lineker and Alan Pardew,” insists Kick It Out directorRoisin Wood. “It’s a good marker going forward to future campaigns.”

Yet the inevitable caveat to all this progress is the simple fact that so few gay footballers have ever felt comfortable enough to declare their homosexuality.

Robbie Rogers departed Leeds United and convinced himself he would have to leave the sport upon telling the world the truth in February 2012, before returning to join LA Galaxy three months later. Hitzlsperger admitted he wanted to come out before injury ended his career at Wolfsburg but was warned against it by family and friends fearful of a backlash.

Both men have offered their services and the knowledge borne of their experiences to the Professional Footballers' Association, who are trying to help those who feel trapped by their sexuality; last May former chairman Clarke Carlisle revealed eight professional players had approached him in confidence to disclose that they were gay.

“When you’re not being 100 per cent who you are it’s very isolating and lonely, and we want to reach out to any player who feels that way,” says Simone Pound, the PFA’s head of equalities. “Both Robbie and Thomas have said they’re really happy to work with us on providing a support network for any player who is gay and feeling isolated.”

Concerns range from alienating team-mates and falling out of favour with the manager to damaging long-term career prospects and being targeted by rival fans. “The abuse I had to suffer would be multiplied a hundredfold for a player who was openly gay,” Le Saux concluded grimly in his autobiography. “The burden would be too much.”

There is, of course, the argument that the financial rewards for the first top footballer to come out could well be lucrative. Exclusive interviews, magazine spreads and sponsorship deals would likely accompany the enduring status of an icon to a much-maligned sporting minority. Yet in the age of 24-hour media coverage, not all find such a scenario appealing.

“The attention, I fear, is a huge disincentive for people to come out while they’re playing, because that front page coverage could be a huge distraction,” admits Chris Basiurski, Chair of the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN). “Even if there were no homophobia in the game there would be huge interest in the first top player to come out, and that would be quite some burden to bear.”

Both Hitzlsperger and Davis were overwhelmed by the public reaction and media coverage, just as Anton Hysen was when, in March 2011, as an unassuming 20-year-old playing for Utsiktens BK in the Swedish third tier, he told Offside magazine he was gay and expected that to be that.

“I understand [the media attention] more now than I did then,” the son of former Liverpool star Glenn Hysen tells Goal. “When Justin [Fashanu] did it in the 90s it became a pretty tragic situation, so I understand now why it’s bigger than it really is. In one way the media is doing it wrong by making it such a big deal, but seeing it lately, it clearly needs to be discussed.”

But while reaction to Hitzlsperger and Rogers in the main suggests football fans at large would support an openly gay top level footballer, the shocking treatment of Brighton and Hove Albion supporters in recent years should act as a check on any optimism.

A report submitted by the Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters Club and the GFSN last year revealed their fans endured homophobic abuse from 72 per cent of opponents at 70% of away games and 57% of home matches. The chants range from the relatively benign to songs referencing dying of AIDS.

Football matches have long been used by some as opportunities for cathartic release; a chance for some to say things they know would be unacceptable anywhere else in society and by others as a place to follow rather than think. A 2009 Stonewall survey of 2,005 fans found that 70% had heard homophobic chanting at games in the previous five years, even as two-thirds insisted they would be comfortable with a player on their team coming out.

“I don’t think football has educated itself enough on what homophobia actually is,” Basiurski adds. “When we submitted our Brighton report last year, many of the clubs identified what we saw as homophobic abuse as banter. A lot of people haven’t got their heads around the fact that what they’re doing is abusive, offensive and actually against the law.”

In response, the FA now send letters to all of Brighton’s opponents before matches reminding them of their responsibilities and to ensure the stewards’ briefing covers homophobic abuse. Results will be best assessed in the long term, but Awoderu is upbeat.

“We know it’s working and other members of staff connected to Brighton are ejecting fans who cross the line,” she insists. “It’s instilled confidence in how to deal with those behaviours.”

All parties agree that in the long term, education is the key to overcoming homophobic abuse. The PFA has staged diversity awareness sessions, run by ex-professionals, for academy players aged 16 to 18 for over five years, and recently extended this practice to senior footballers, while the FA have added mandatory equality education to the minimum five-match ban for on-field discrimination offences.

Only time will tell whether these continued efforts, coupled with the courage shown by the likes of Hysen, Rogers, Hitzlsperger and Davis, will eventually lead to a top Premier League footballer feeling comfortable enough to come out while he is still playing. 

“The Premier League has a lot of media coverage and the world loves it,” Hysen adds. “But if no one ever tries [coming out] then we’ll never know. There are a lot of fans I think are ready for it.”

If or when it happens, however, those fighting homophobia need only look at football’s anti-racism movement to realise that landmark achievements are merely battles won in a bigger war.

“Our work won’t stop with the first active player who comes out, and it won’t mean that everything has been solved,” Pound insists. “We’ll have to keep working and working until we reach a point where diversity and equality are inherent in the game, and we’re long way off that.”

Momentum is gathering, then, but genuine progress remains tentative.

By Liam Twomey

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