UN Human Rights Commissioner urges LGBT World Cup players to come out

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay spoke yesterday about the significance of LGBT World Cup players coming out to foster visibility and understanding, and urging closeted players to come out. "I encourage players, sports people to declare their sexual orientation without fear," she told reporters in Geneva. "That's the only way they will find the right to sexual orientation accepted. They are role models, it's important to send this message to their fans as well."

Pillay addressed a meeting on equality in sports, where she spoke about discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation, as well as race and disability. She stated, "There's an increasing realization that combatting discrimination requires more than superficial measures that do not change attitudes or address the root causes of inequality." 

Despite the fact that there are no openly LGBT soccer players in the current FIFA World Cup, GLAAD recently highlighted the stories of some out soccer players who have helped to pave the way for equality and visibility in sports around the world.

It is "a shame in this day in age" that people have to "hide who they really are," said Pillay. After this encouragement from the United Nations, hopefully current World Cup players will find the strength to be open and honest.

However, players from certain countries do need to be careful about coming out due to anti-LGBT laws and lack of protection for LGBT players. For instance, Nigeria passed legislation banning same-sex marriage and implementing a 10-year prison sentence for same-sex couples showing public displays of affection. Russia's anti-propaganda law shrouded the Winter Olympic Games in controversy. Many countries including Brazil and Argentina do not have any anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, the highest number of transgender people murdered in a year (95 murdered from November 2012 to November 2013) occurred in the host country, Brazil.

As millions of fans are tuning into the World Cup, GLAAD has been sharing information about LGBT information related to the games, and asking FIFA and fans to #StopTheSlurs. Visit www.glaad.org/worldcup to learn more, and share the graphics and videos: