Paris welcomes Gay Games, 'most inclusive' sport contest


Paris is hosting the 10th Gay Games, a sport contest modelled after the Olympics aimed at promoting the rights of the LGBT community.

Six years before hosting the 2024 Olympic Games, Paris welcomes more than 10,000 people from 91 countries for the 10th Gay Games, a week of sporting events and cultural meetings.

The Gay Games’ aim is to fight against homophobia in sports and promote diversity, but participation doesn’t require an athlete to be a member of the LGBT community.

“The Gay Games are the most inclusive in the world, anybody can participate, from an 18 year old to someone who’s 99,” Manuel Picaud, co-president of the event, told franceinfo on August 4.

“The principles are simple: participation, inclusiveness, surpassing oneself but not necessarily absolute performance, virilism or patriotism,” added Picaud.

The event, which is being held in various venues all over the French capital from August 4 to 12, has received broad support from the French government.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Sports Minister Laura Flessel and French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier attended the opening ceremony, during which athletes paraded behind their respective national flags like in the Olympics.

Raise awareness about gay rights

Several participants come from countries where homosexuality remains a crime. Fifty-eight participants are from Russia, which in 2013 passed a law banning “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations”, while one athlete holds a passport from Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is punishable by death.

Egypt and other Muslim countries where gays have been arrested and sent to jail will also be represented in one of the 36 sporting disciplines, spanning from football to swimming, and volleyball to sailing.

France itself has been grappling with a recent surge in anti-gay acts as it eyes legalising assisted reproduction for gay women in 2019 – a campaign promise by centrist French President Emmanuel Macron.

According to French gay rights charity SOS Homophobie, the number of physical attacks due to homophobia jumped by 15 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Gay Games organisers have said they expected the gains for the local economy to amount to around €58 million.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2018-08-06

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