The plan to light up a rainbow-colored football stadium to show support for LGBT + rights has been rejected by the gaming governing body in Europe for being too political.
Germany faces Hungary on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena in Munich in the ongoing Euro 2020 tournament. and German politicians had called for the colors of the rainbow to be displayed in protest against the Hungarian government after passing laws that critics say undermine LGBT + rights.
The mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, called for the colors of the rainbow “as a symbol of cosmopolitanism and tolerance” and “to send a visible signal from afar for our common understanding of values”.
But UEFA said on Tuesday it opposed the reasoning behind the request, which it said violated strict rules of fairness. The stadium has displayed rainbow colors around its exterior walls on several occasions.
“UEFA, by its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organization,” she said in a statement. “Given the political context of this specific request – a message aimed at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request.”
Reiter on Tuesday called UEFA’s move “shameful” and said the city would drape rainbow flags and light up the stadium windmill and the Munich Olympic tower.
“We will always send a clear sign of our solidarity and respect for gender equality to Hungary and to the world,” he said in a statement.
In his letter to UEFA detailing the plan, he compared Hungarian laws to Russia’s “homophobic and transphobic” legislation. He called on UEFA “to use its media coverage to make a strong and visible commitment to tolerance and equality”.
Hungary’s right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, passed a law last week banning the “display and promotion” of homosexuality and gender change among those under 18, in schools and in the media.
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Orban defended the legislation, writing on its English website that it “does not conflict with lofty ideals or European laws.”
“The new Hungarian law simply states that only parents can decide on the sex education of their children,” the statement released Thursday said.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó blasted Munich’s plan on Monday.
“In Hungary we passed a law to protect Hungarian children, and now in Western Europe they are complaining,” Szijjártó said while in Luxembourg, according to the Associated Press. “They want to express that by including politics in a sporting event, which has nothing to do with passing national laws.”
German Minister for Europe called on twitter Tuesday for fans to bring rainbow flags to the match as a show of solidarity.
In its statement, UEFA underlined its commitment to diversity and inclusion and suggested alternative dates for stadium lighting.
On Sunday, UEFA refused to sanction German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for wearing a rainbow-colored captain’s armband during the tournament.