Gay politician defends decision to ban referee from wearing rainbow wristband

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An out gay politician has backed the organisation in charge of Gaelic football’s decision to ban a referee from wearing a rainbow wristband during a match on Saturday.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) blocked official David Gough, who is gay, from wearing the rainbow band at Saturday’s match between Tyrone and Dublin.

Mr Gough says his gesture was meant to be a statement to combat homophobia in sport – but the Gaelic Athletic Association maintains it is committed to being “apolitical” ahead of the same-sex marriage vote in May.

Now openly gay Teachta Dála (TD) Jerry Buttimer said he understood why the GAA banned Gough from wearing the wristband.

Speaking to the Irish Daily Star, he said: “The GAA have been very proactive in battling homophobia and had the wristband only signified that I am sure the referee would have been allowed wear it.

“But I can see where the GAA is coming from in relation to the referendum issue.”

The GAA told the Irish Independent: “It’s a black and white issue. The association is apolitical.

“Any member is allowed to have their own political views or opinions outside but Croke Park is not the place to make political gestures.

“We have been very consistent on this issue

“The GAA is apolitical and does not allow political gestures at our games. Once the referendum was called and the people are asked to vote then it becomes political.”

Mr Gough said he felt “disappointed and let down” by the decision, adding: “They have over-analysed and over-politicised a very simple gesture.”

He added: “I had received permission at noon on Friday but then received a number of calls on Friday night and another at 7.30am yesterday when they told me they would not allow it.

“I was told flatly that I could not do it. I am disappointed, dismayed and feel I, and all gay members of the association, have been let down.”