In reaction to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont voting against introducing equal marriage to the region, which would have brought it into line with the rest of the UK, the rainbow flag has been flown during all Cliftonville games, in support of the football club’s LGBT fans and to highlight homophobia both inside and outside of the sporting world.
Pedro Donald, a gay Cliftonville fan based in south Belfast, told The Guardian‘s Henry McDonald that the club’s decision to fly the rainbow flag showed that “people are being more forward thinking, being more 21st century, being more current,” which Donald felt was needed in football across Britain and Ireland.
“It used to be said in English football that it was more ‘men only’ even than the British Army,” Mr Donald said, “so Cliftonville have led the way and that is great. When I saw the flag I was surprised because it looks out of place at the stadium. But I think most people don’t bat an eyelid it’s there, which is great”.
“It has sent a signal to the gay community that [they] are welcome here.”
Fellow fan, Bryan Smyth, added that the idea came about after the news of Stormont’s decision on equal marriage broke, and he and his fellow fans were angry at the result.
“Lots of young men attend Irish league games,” Smyth said, “no doubt just like wider society, some may be struggling to come to terms with their sexuality and being safely able to open up, it is seen as a visual symbol of support to our friends in the LGBT community”.
H/T: The Guardian