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‘Winning against prejudices’: Bid to tackle homophobia in sports

Releasing new clip featuring LGBTQ athletes, Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper says there is an ‘equal place in Israeli sports for everyone’

Razi, a soccer player identifying as gay, in a campaign launched by the Culture and Sports Ministry aimed at combating prejudice against the LGBTQ community in sport. (Screengrab/YouTube)
Razi, a soccer player identifying as gay, in a campaign launched by the Culture and Sports Ministry aimed at combating prejudice against the LGBTQ community in sport. (Screengrab/YouTube)

The Culture and Sport Ministry launched on Wednesday the first-ever government campaign aimed at fighting homophobia in sports.

The 30-second video featuring LGBTQ Israeli athletes is titled “Winning against prejudices — winning in sport,” and is aimed at spreading awareness of the “offensive reality” faced by such athletes in the sporting world, according to the ministry.

The video showcased a montage of athletes playing their respective sports while hateful slurs are heard in the background.

The athletes featured included Razi, a soccer player identifying as gay, Liza, a volleyball player identifying as lesbian and Shay, a judo fighter who identifies as transgender.

Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper said Wednesday that the campaign “expresses the need and importance for a clean, respectful, prejudice-free discourse.”

“There is an equal place in Israeli sports for everyone,” he added.

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg praised the ministry’s campaign on Twitter: “I congratulate the Culture and Sport Ministry for the first campaign of its kind against the phenomenon of LGBTQphobia and prejudice.”

“Only two months ago we made it clear in legislation which I initiated that verbal violence based on sexual orientation on the sports field is discrimination in every respect and would constitute an offense against the law,” he added.

Ginzburg made history as Israel’s first openly gay mayor when he was elected to head the central city of Ra’anana in 2018.

Overall, the Jewish state is accepting of its LGBTQ community. Pride parades are held annually across the country, the largest of which is held in Tel Aviv,

While same-sex marriages cannot be performed in Israel, couples can register as married with the Interior Ministry if they marry in a country that recognizes same-sex marriage.

However, prejudices remain present in the country, particularly in more traditional and religious communities, as well as in the world of sports.

In January, Maccabi Tel Aviv faced a disciplinary hearing after fans repeatedly shouted, “Danny Amos is gay” at the goalkeeper of the rival Maccabi Netanya.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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