In an effort to bring awareness to the Ukraine’s rising tide of homophobia, Europe’s first openly gay footballer, Marcus Urban, live-tweeted today’s UEFA European Football Championship match between the Ukraine and England at . Urban, an East German footballer who played on the second division youth team of FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt, left a promising football career after coming out as a gay man.
“I had to quit my career 20 years ago, because of the pressure to conform in professional football. Even now, just a few days ago, an Italian forward playing at Euro 2012 said that he hopes there are no gay players in his team,” says Urban in a statement, “He is a typical example of how little football has advanced on this issue in the last two decades. As a matter of fact, there are no openly gay players at the Euro 2012 at all.”
As the Ukrainian Parliament gets closer to approving a anti-gay-propaganda law similar to the one in St. Petersburg, the human rights group AllOut has started a campaign to pressure President Viktor Yanukovych to speak up against the country’s growing anti-gay sentiment.
Several countries in the European Union, including France, have already refused to attend Euro 2012 games because of civil-rights abuses in the former Soviet state. “Leaders are telling Ukraine that they can not reap the benefits of the European community while rejecting its commitment to human rights,” Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut says. “Euro 2012 has become the focal point for everyone from heads of state to pro-footballers ready to give Ukraine a red card for the country’s ever expanding pattern of human rights abuses.”
The Olympics could take a lesson here. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ukraine lost.