Sport: UEFA refuses to light Munich stadium in rainbow colours for Germany-Hungary match

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UEFA on Tuesday rejected plans by the city of Munich to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for the Germany-Hungary Euro 2020 match in support of the LGBT community and to protest at a law passed by the Hungarian government.

The Allianz Arena has been lit in rainbow colours before for Bayern Munich matches © Andreas GEBERT The Allianz Arena has been lit in rainbow colours before for Bayern Munich matches

"UEFA is a politically and religiously neutral organisation," said European football's governing body in a statement ahead of Wednesday's match.

"Given the political context of this request -- a message aimed at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament -- UEFA must refuse."

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UEFA'S stance quickly drew criticism from Germany's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"We find it very disconcerting how UEFA deals with values that should generally be accepted in society,"  Markus Ulrich, a spokesman for Germany's Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), told AFP subsidiary SID.

"UEFA has not recognised the signs of the times -- and it is clear to see which side it is taking with its decision."

The mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, had wanted the stadium in rainbow colours for the crucial Group F match to "send a visible sign of solidarity" with Hungary's LGBT community.

Hungary's right-wing government last week passed a law banning the "promotion" of homosexuality to minors, outlawing any educational programmes or material in which homosexuality is mentioned.

On Monday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto claimed that plans to light the Munich stadium in rainbow colours were "harmful and dangerous".

While UEFA have rejected the request for the day of the match, it has suggested alternative dates for June 28, which is Christopher Street Liberation Day, or from July 3-9, the week of gay pride in Munich.

The last European Championship match in Munich takes place on July 2.

Tensions are running high on and off the pitch.

Hungary need a win to have a chance of reaching the last 16, while hosts Germany know just a draw would secure a spot in the knockout phase.

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Eastern Europe was once a world leader on gay rights. Then it ran out of scapegoats .
Martón Pál feels like he is in a parallel universe. © Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images Participants march under a rainbow flag during the Warsaw Gay Pride parade in the center of the Polish capital on June 19, 2021. Pál lives in Budapest with his husband and young son, and says Hungary has made a lot of progress on LGBTQ rights in the past two decades. He feels society is becoming increasingly more open and accepting towards him and his family, making his life significantly better. At the same time, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is pushing in the opposite direction.

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