Sport promotes rivalries while simultaneously uniting behind a common passion. Participation supports both our physical and mental wellbeing and support of a team or following a competition promotes a sense of ‘belonging’, a point of social connection.
This is the reason I am saddened, but regrettably not surprised, with events unfolding in Qatar at the World Cup. The wearing of a rainbow or ‘OneLove’ symbol in whatever form should not be an act of defiance but one of inclusion, it should not be sanctionable and it should not generate fear in the wearer or the observer.
I have been proud to stand in solidarity with members of the Laois and Offaly LGBTI+ communities on many occasions. I stand with you now. There is no place for fear or exclusion in sport.
Attitudes and events in Qatar remind me what a great little country we live in. Sporting organisations are wholeheartedly embracing inclusivity regardless of personal characteristics and abilities and Government policy and funding supports this. Likewise, our communities are increasingly saying no to discrimination, hate and prejudice on the grounds of being LGBTI+.
I hope and trust that we will use this time of heightened awareness of LGBTI+ discrimination internationally to strengthen our own resolve to stand together in One Love.