Northern Ireland sports minister denounces gay rugby team for discrimination

Dylan Vox | February 25, 2008

Sports Minister Edwin Poots
DUBLIN — The Ulster Titans have had a busy season getting organized as the first gay rugby team to hit Northern Ireland, but this week, concerns were raised over the purpose of such a league. Sports Minister Edwin Poots has issued a statement denouncing the team saying that the exclusion of heterosexuals was unnecessary in sports.

Poots, an evangelical Protestant who is the Sports Minister in the Northern Ireland government, told the Northern Ireland Assembly that the Titans were guilty of discrimination.

"It would be unacceptable to produce an all-black rugby team or an all-white team or an all-Chinese team,” Poots explained in his statement according to the Associated Press. "To me it's equally unacceptable to produce an all-homosexual rugby team and I find it remarkable that people who talk so much about inclusivity and about having an equal role in society would then go down the route of exclusion."

Established last year, the team is “open to all men regardless of age, experience, race or sexual orientation. Northern Ireland's first team identifying with gay men and we are committed to equality, inclusion and the greatest sport in the world," according to their website.

Declan Lavery, a co-founder of the team told the press that there were in fact several heterosexual team members on the 25-man squad and felt that the attack by Poots was completely unfounded. "Yes, it was primarily something established as a vehicle for gay people, but that doesn't mean somebody who isn't gay can't join. Everyone is welcome," he told BBC News.

The Titans are currently recruiting new players and practicing for the upcoming season. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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