Gay former footballer to tweet on Ukraine’s anti-gay bill during England game

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Gay former professional footballer Marcus Urban will be tweeting with at this evening’s Ukraine-England match to highlight the draft anti-gay law currently being considered by the former country’s legislature.

If passed, the Ukrainian Law 8711 would prohibit the promotion of homosexuality in the media. It has drawn international criticism with warnings that it would impinge on the rights of citizens, endanger those bodies working in Ukraine to protect human rights and hinder HIV prevention and treatment efforts.

Amnesty International said the law would “fly in the face of Ukraine’s international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and prohibit discrimination”.

Kiev Pride was cancelled last month and a press conference ended with two gay rights activists being hospitalised.

As co-hosts of the Euro 2012 competition along with Poland, Ukraine’s human rights record has been under the spotlight. It has been confirmed that the UK will not be sending any ministers to the England group games at Euro 2012 in Ukraine.

Marcus Urban, who will be tweeting about the game and gay issues later today, came out after playing for Rot-Weiß Erfurt in the 1990s and said today he felt pressure to conform led him to leave football and live openly or stay and remain in the closet.

Referring to recent comments by striker Antonio Cassano, he added: “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.

“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.”

Urban will be tweeting from the account as England meet Ukraine this evening, from 7.30pm BST, with a mixture of commentary on the game and on LGBT issues in Ukraine.

Andre Banks, executive director of said: “Leaders are telling Ukraine that they can not reap the benefits of the European community while rejecting its commitment to human rights.

“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 British Foreign Office issued the following advice for gay football fans considering travelling to Ukraine: “Although homosexuality is legal in Ukraine, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. There is no provision under Ukrainian legislation guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and there has recently been an increase in hostility towards the LGBT community.

“On the advice of the police, organisers cancelled a Gay Pride Parade in Kyiv, scheduled to take place on 20 May 2012. Anti-parade protesters disrupted the press-conference with tear gas and two organisers were attacked and hospitalised. A bill ‘prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality towards children’ is currently under consideration in the Rada (Parliament).”

Zoryan Kis, executive director of Fulcrum, a Ukrainian LGBT organization said: “The situation for lesbian and gay people here in Ukraine is urgent, and we need supporters like Marcus and All Out members all around the world to speak up with us.”

Urban will be tweeting from’s Twitter account @allout, with more information and a petition tot the Ukrainian president available on the group website.