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Triumphant athletes highlight diversity at the Copenhagen 2021 EuroGames

Diversport President Liván Soto and Jack Backstrom at the 2021 EuroGames in Copenhagen.
Diversport President Liván Soto and Jack Backstrom at the 2021 EuroGames in Copenhagen. / SUR
  • The games promoted inclusion as a central value, with an emphasis on the discrimination faced by Hungary's gay community

Two local athletes representing the Diversport association in Torremolinos, a sports organisation that promotes inclusion and wellbeing in sport among the LGBT+ community, have won eight medals collectively at the Copenhagen EuroGames 2021, which was held in August.

Liván Soto, president of Diversport, won five gold medals, while his American teammate Jack Backstrom secured two silvers and one bronze in the discus, shot put, javelin, long jump and the 4 x100 metre relay.

Focused on discrimination

The EuroGames, part of World Pride 2021, was a multi-sport event held across Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden) that included 22 tournaments for female, male and non-binary identified players. With the slogan #YouAreIncluded, the games promoted inclusion as a central value, with a strong emphasis on the recent discrimination faced by Hungary's gay community.

The Hungarian parliament passed a new law tabled by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that bans the portrayal of homosexuality and sex reassignment in school education material and TV programmes addressed to people under 18 years of age. The bill was approved during this year's Pride celebrations in June and was met with immediate condemnation from several EU countries and groups in the European Parliament.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the European Commission said, "Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatised."

Liván Soto, who is also a member of the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) - an entity that brings together 125 European sports organisations - participated in different initiatives during the EuroGames, including the collection of signatures and messages on a rainbow flag from participating athletes, which was delivered to the Hungarian Embassy in Copenhagen.

The athlete has long been an activist for the rights of the LGBT+ collective and has supported Diversport, the first inclusive sports club in Andalucía, since its inception in 2018. He believes there is a need to promote an inclusive sport practice that respects the diversity of all people, because "sport is the best tool to educate society in diversity and social inclusion". Along with various sporting activities, Diversport, which Liván says he is "proud to be part of", supports a socio-educational policy and the defence of human rights among the LGBT+ collective.