GAA must protect its gay players from verbal abuse

Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, today criticized the GAA for not doing enough to protect and encourage its LGBT players and members.

Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, today criticized the GAA for not doing enough to protect and encourage its LGBT players and members.

Ms. Prendergast said “I watched Donal Og Cusack’s speech at this weekend’s Foyle Pride Festival on Youtube and I was moved by his honesty and courage. As Ireland’s first “out” inter-county GAA player, I think he is a great role-model for young people all over the country, both gay and straight.

“However, I was disturbed, and if I’m truthful, upset, when he described the verbal abuse he suffers at the hands of a small cohort of supporters when representing his county.

“He described individuals with megaphones shouting homophobic and slanderous insults at him while he was playing, which obviously begs the question, what is the GAA doing to protect and encourage LGBT players at both inter-county and local level?

“The EU defines hooliganism as ‘…having an anti social and violent minority of fans that spoil the enjoyment of the vast majority…’

Homophobia in sport is a form of hooliganism, and we must treat it as such. The GAA has specific policies for protection against sectarian and racial abuse, and I would like to see these policies strengthened and extended to cover abuse based on an individual’s sexuality.

“If the GAA truly is an all-community organisation, it needs to start examining the possibility of adopting soccer-style laws to combat hooliganism, such as the use of CCTV and police intelligence to identify these individuals, stadium bans and potentially criminal sanctions for those that engage in this destructive and offensive behaviour.

“In this day and age, the GAA has a responsibility to all of its members, gay and straight, to stamp this out.”