Sascoc furore over gay athletes

By Daneel Knoetze -

Johannesburg - Sascoc president Gideon Sam is in hot water with gay rights
groups after he reportedly derided the Gay Games at the Sports Industry Summit.

Speaking at the summit in Joburg on Thursday, Sam, said Sascoc did not govern
the Gay Games, because the body was involved in the administration of "serious
sport" in South Africa.

The Gay Games is the world's largest sporting event organised by and
specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual athletes.

While a copy of Sam's speech is not publicly available, a flurry of reaction
on Twitter from members of the audience suggests the statement was interpreted
to have been derogatory.

Speaking to the Cape Argus on Friday morning, Sam admitted feeling a "ripple
of dissent" moving through the room after he made the statement. He maintains
he was misinterpreted.

Nonhlanhla Mkhize, director of the Durban Gay and Lesbian Centre, said that
while she had not personally heard Sam's comments, it was unacceptable for gay
athletes to be belittled.

"If the statement was intended to belittle the Gay Games and gay athletes
[who] compete there, then it is absolutely unacceptable. It saddens us to think
that this could be seen as a less serious contest than other sporting
tournaments," she said.

"If it is indeed true that his statement was misinterpreted by the gallery,
then we challenge him to come out and set the record straight. We would like
Sam and Sascoc to open themselves up to the idea of engaging with gay sportsmen
and women, and to show in their policies, and implementation of these, that
they are truly committed to encouraging growth in sport across the board,
regardless of gender and sexual orientation."

Adam Fraser, the head of communication for the summit, said he was not present
during the speech, but his attention was drawn to the Twitter reaction to it.
"We are not a judge and jury; we provide a platform for leaders in the sporting
community to express their views, and for debates in [this] community to be
given a public space… I can't give an opinion on Sam's statement. We want sport
in South Africa to improve, and one way that this can be achieved is through
debate and dialogue."

Sam has denied that his statements were intended to belittle gay athletes or
the Gay Games. "I was merely stating a fact – that Sascoc does not have an
associate membership of any federation involved in the management and promotion
of sport for gay people in the country. I am a democrat, and believe in
everybody's right to be what they want to be," he said. "As Sascoc we would be
happy to engage with leaders of such a federation. Every sector of society has
the right to empower themselves through… sport… as Sascoc it is our mandate to
support such efforts."


Pubblicato da Lorenzo Bernini