Features

If homophobia is a problem for bobsled, why is it OK for cricket?

The Twenty20 World Cup and a tale of sporting double standards

8 March 2014

9:00 AM

8 March 2014

9:00 AM

Where are the threats of a boycott, the calls for isolation, the outraged letters to the Prime Minister? Where are the rainbow logos, the delegations of human rights activists, the declarations of solidarity? On 16 March Bangladesh is to host the T20 World Cup, one of the top limited overs tournaments in international cricket. All the top cricketing nations, including England, will participate. Yet the competition has not attracted so much as a bat squeak of protest from gay rights campaigners, despite the fact that Bangladesh has an appalling record of institutionalised discrimination against homosexuals. Indeed, same-sex activity remains a criminal offence in the country.

Similarly, not a single objection has been made to India’s cricket tour of England this summer, which will involve five Test matches and six one-day internationals.   This equanimity from the gay rights lobby is astonishing, given that last December India’s Supreme Court decided to reaffirm the country’s legal ban on homosexuality. It was a judgement that overturned a ruling of the Delhi High Court in 2009, which had legalised gay sex. Activists in India were outraged at the Supreme Court’s recent decision. ‘We’ve been set back 100 years. What age are we living in?’ said Anjali Gopalan, of the Naz Foundation, a gay rights pressure group in India.

But in sporting circles, this judicial regression is a taboo subject. The contrast with Russia could hardly be more graphic. In the run-up to last month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, the airwaves were filled with indignation at the brutal homophobia of President Putin’s regime. There were demands for a boycott of the games and acres of press coverage were devoted to the evils of Russian anti-gay prejudice from both the public and officialdom.  Much of this fury concentrated on a law passed in June last year by the Russian parliament that outlawed ‘propaganda of non-traditional relations’, a piece of legislation that was supposedly designed to protect children from gay rights evangelism.


To parts of the gay rights lobby, this measure was a symbol of brutal repression, a step so intolerant that it made the Winter Games at Sochi an affront to humanity. National treasure Stephen Fry was so incensed that he even penned a letter to David Cameron, urging that the Winter Olympics should be held anywhere but Russia, since Putin’s hostility to gays was similar to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews. ‘An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics is simply essential. At all events, Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world. He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did the Jews,’ wrote Fry.

But there have been no such fulminations over England’s sporting links with the far more bigoted regimes of the Indian sub-continent. In fact, Russia decriminalised homosexual activity in 1993, soon after the collapse of Soviet tyranny, whereas the criminal bans have remained in place not just in Bangladesh and India, but also in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, two of the other top cricket nations from the subcontinent that will be playing in the T20 tournament next month. Less than six months ago, the government of Bangladesh, whose population is largely Muslim, openly rejected calls from the United Nations to decriminalise homosexuality, arguing that to do so would ‘conflict with the sociocultural values of the country’. In a graphic illustration of the harsh reality engendered by this stance, two lesbian factory workers from Dhaka were recently arrested for the offence of daring to live together, after local police had been tipped off about their relationship. Similarly, the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, last year refused an entry permit to the lesbian partner of the Norwegian ambassador to his country. ‘Our women will also want to behave in this manner if we allow such actions,’ he explained in justification.

There is another crucial difference between the Russian case and that of the Indian subcontinent. For all the media furore about the Winter Olympics, Russia was only the host of the games, not the base of the sport’s governing body. No one has accused any leading figures on the International Olympic Committee of aggressive homophobia. But precisely such a charge has been made against the head of Indian cricket, Narayaswami Srinivasan, by none other than his own son Ashwin. Srinivasan, 69, a highly successful industrialist, is the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but Ashwin, who is openly gay and lives with his partner Avi, claims that his father has made his life a misery because ‘he is vehemently against homosexuality’. According to Ashwin, his father once used his influence to have both of them beaten up by the police with iron rods in a Mumbai restaurant. His account is disputed, but Ashwin insists that he and his partner ‘have come close to losing [their] lives due to the constant physical and mental torture’.

And what was the response of cricket’s global administrators to these allegations? Last month, Srinivasan was appointed chairman of the International Cricket Council, the game’s ruling body. Cricket is almost his fiefdom, since India, with its huge population and devoted following, provides 80 per cent of the sport’s revenues.

The hypocrisy of the gay rights lobby on this issue can partly be explained by the ideology of political correctness, which means that, because of the guilt-tripping nostrums about western colonialism and racial victimhood, campaigners are terrified of confronting even rampant prejudice among non-white ethnic groups.  This is the same cowardly spirit that has led to the scandalous complacency in Britain about misogynistic practices like female genital mutilation, predatory grooming by urban gangs of Muslim men, or the spread of unofficial sharia courts. The double standards also reflect how the metropolitan left now views Russia and the Indian subcontinent. The former is seen as a right-wing, bastard-capitalist state run by gangsters and oligarchs, which deserves all the condemnation it receives. But the latter is regarded as a land of diversity, progress and inspiration, full of heroic masses whose only faults are the legacy of the British empire.

Cricket has been drawn into highly political causes in the recent past. As Nelson Mandela testified, the sport’s international boycott of South Africa played a key role in the end of apartheid. But with India the dominant force in the game today, there is no chance of that happening on anti-gay discrimination, especially when equality campaigners, so shrill over the Winter Olympics, choose to remain silent.

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  • Clivejw

    The problem is that if boycotts were imposed over homophobia in cricket, there would be no Asian teams involved in it at all. And definitely no Zimbabwe. Frankly, there are plenty of other reasons for banning Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe (corruption, blatant political influence in their cricket administrations, etc.). If India were added over homophobia, that would leave the predominantly Anglo-Saxon nations plus South Africa, with the game losing the Indian TV millions. It’s not going to happen.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Well of course it isn’t. So let’s shut up about the Russians shall we?

      • Clivejw

        I have never understood the logic of “if you cannot do good everywhere, you shouldn’t do good anywhere.”

  • Noa

    Leo McKinstry’s argument, identifyin the bien pensant hypocracy and double standards of homosexual and feminist lobby groups. and indeed the Foreign Office, is correct.
    There is no expression of concern or concerted action, only the cowed, subservient silence we have come to exect from the left.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      I’d take your fulsome disappointment in the failure of the Foreign Office to stand up for the rights of gay people more seriously if your comments elsewhere didn’t make clear you don’t want them to have equal rights.

      • Noa

        I am not interested in what you take seriously. The point of the article is about the hypocracy and moral cowardice of the activist gay rights movement, and you demonstrate this admirably.
        The malign confusion of Britain’s national interest with ‘LGBT rights’ is not realpolitick but a perpetuation of your socialist agenda.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          I condemn the actions of all those who oppress people because of harmless genetic variances, be they Russian, Indian, Saudi or whatever.

          I don’t think the FCO care much, hence the PM glad handing various Arab despots, but one does what one can under capitalism.

          You however would doubtless rather like a resurrected Section 28 and all that. Therefore your cries that the gay rights movement isn’t doing enough I are crocodile tears of the worst kind.

          • Peter_In_Wanstead

            Homosexuality is genetic? Then those practising it have no choice in the matter. And as the practice is clearly against Nature i.e. deviant it should once gain be classified as a mental illness and it’s sufferers offered treament in the form of libido reducing drugs and ECT. And, in case you’re wondering, I’m absolutely serious.

          • Fergus Pickering

            You’re a nutcase then.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            How can a genetic variation, seen throughout nature, be against ‘Nature’?

            You do realise evolution works on the level of populations, not individuals right?

          • Peter_In_Wanstead

            You do realise evolution is based on sexual reproduction, right? Which, as far as I know, is not possible anally.

          • Clivejw

            I’m afraid I don’t keep the illustrious company that you do.

          • Peter_In_Wanstead

            Everyone who ever tried to sell me charlie in nearly two years in Amsterdam was a Black African. “You want Charlie?”…..looking back I suppose they could have been pimping a small brown boy.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            As the thousands of living, breathing humans conceived by artificial insemination will attest, vaginal sex is not a pre-requisite for conception.

            Yet even if it were, kin selection hypothesis works perfectly well, as do a host of other theories.

            Bonobos, our closest living relatives, are almost uniformly bisexual, sex being an intrinsic part of group dynamics.

            If you dispute this however, you have to come up with some explanation as to why same sex attraction is seen throughout human history, in all cultures, even those where it is a literal death sentence.

          • Peter_In_Wanstead

            “vaginal sex is not a pre-requisite for conception”

            Tru’ dat. But when you manage to make life in vitro or even in vivo from two spermatozoon I sugget you gives the Swedes a call. They have some cash for you.

            And I am no more related to a Bonobo than I am to a dreadlocked Rastafarian. I have trouble telling Bonobos apart as well.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            Ah, you’re a Poe. Sorry, hard to tell around here sometimes!

          • Peter_In_Wanstead

            “You’re a Poe” makes, like, literally no sense? Hitler would have been proud of you.

          • Kitty MLB

            Disgusting thing to say.
            For years homosexuals had to put up with degrading
            physical tests and treatment as a way to ‘ cure them’
            and yet revolting men wander this earth abusing women,
            children and god knows what and they just get a prison sentence. A lot of straight men should be castrated in my
            humble opinion.

          • mikewaller

            You may be serious, but you are also sadly deficient in your understanding of “nature”. The most plausible explanation of how natural things come to be is Darwin’s theory of evolution in accordance with which it is quite easy to posit that, for example, social cohesion could well be enhanced by the possibilities of guarantied non-reproductive sex. The commonly observed tendency of some males to “stray” when their mate is pregnant can be disastrous if they impregnate another female, particularly in latitudes where pair bonds are almost essential in child rearing. It is not my field of expertise, but as I understand matters, in a great many societies it is only the “recipient” of the male to male sexual act who is considered the homosexual. The other, presumable, is simple viewed as either displaying dominance and/or discharging surplus sexual energy.

            It is also noteworthy that in many societies anthropologists have found great significance in the role of the mother’s brother in child rearing. In many circumstances the evolutionary calculus will still favour that brother producing young of his own; however in others a high investment strategy in which that brother does not reproduce and instead gives additional support to his sister’s young may well be more effective. As testosterone has to do aggression ( very useful in defending females and young) as well as sexuality, it could again be useful to have the possibility of non-reproductive sex.

            None of this has any connotations of right or wrong. In accordance with neo-Darwinism’s transcending circularity, genes which – in any given environment – have effects which confer selective advantage on the kin group which carries them will out-replicate less successful alleles.

            All this, of course, is a million miles above your petty spitefulness – and I speak as an unwavering heterosexual.

          • Clivejw

            That wasn’t what I was wondering.

      • Cyril Sneer

        What does equal rights entail? To dismiss the Church and 2k years of religion so that gays can use the word ‘married’ rather than in a ‘partnership’ – the left rubbing the churches nose in ‘diversity’ and undermining it at every opportunity.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          Marriage changed when straight people reformed it from a chattel arrangement for procreation to a union of equals based on love.

          And no one is forcing the churches to do anything, just as no one forces the Catholics to marry divorcees.

          And of course, now the Quakers are free to conduct he same-sex marriages they wish to in their meeting houses, which they were banned from doing before in a terrible affront to religious liberty.

          • Kitty MLB

            Norman Tebbit made a his views clear about gay marriage
            when he said, will I be able to marry my brother next, where
            will it all end, not sure what to make of that . Although I am profoundly N0T homophobic,
            I have traditional Christian/ Catholic views regarding marriage
            and that is unlikely to change.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            No one is asking congregations that do not wish to bless same-sex unions to do so. However by the same token of religious liberty, surely you agree that those sects, such as the Quakers, Unitarians and some others that wish to perform gay marriages within their places of worship should be allowed to do so?

        • Clivejw

          Homosexuals have been around longer than the Christian superstition, the most murderous and oppressive religion in history (until very recently).

  • Now and then

    Again – this just hilights that the pc crowd only play on the emotions of good decent fair citizens because they’re easy marks.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      What piece of bigotry have the ‘pc crowd’ prevented you from doing that you would like to indulge in?

      • Now and then

        Feel free to take your little supremacy agenda to Russia, where it belongs.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          Unlike ‘Christian’ b&b owners, I don’t consider myself above the law.

  • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

    Er, no. Here are some rather more accurate reasons.

    1) Because the Olympics is used as a source of national pride in a way cricket matches (Ashes perhaps excepted) are not, and hence are a much bigger political and media target.

    2) Because Russian homophobia, both legal and social, has been increasing, whereas Indian homophobia seems to be, slowly, following the path to decriminalisation. Regression causes more opposition than the status quo or slow progression.

    3) Because watching the mobile phone videos of young Russian men being tortured and persecuted causes a powerful and visceral reaction in a way that reading Indian case law does not.

    Of course many in the gay rights movement are aware of this situation and have expressed such. The fact you haven’t heard it is an issue for the media, not the movement.

    • Now and then

      What rubbish. here’s the reality, people are getting tired of supremacist attitudes like your’s , perhaps it’s time the word ‘homophobia’ be outlawed and anyone who says or uses it be dealt with harshly by the State. In fact they should be prosecuted and sued into bankruptcy and their assets be transferred to both the State and their victim(s).

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        The fact that two lads kissing arouses troubling feelings within you is not a sound basis for state action.

        • Now and then

          Your false and malicious accusations are just that, as are most accusations.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            You’re not troubled by displays of affection between two humans of the same sex? So what’s your problem then?

    • MC73

      What about Bangladesh then? If Russia is going the wrong way, Bangladesh is still way ahead of it. Gay sex is illegal there. How can that be less worthy of protest than Russian laws which – regardless of how unpleasant they are – still don’t make gay sex between consenting adults a crime? Also it does not sound at all to me like India is ‘following a path towards decriminalisation’.

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        The act of imposing new restrictions will always arise more opposition than their mere maintenance.

        India is indeed following a path to decriminalisation, because the illegality of homosexuality is now in question, in a way it was not previously.

  • Now and then

    Even the word ‘homophobia’ is just another tactic used by supremacists to shame ethical and moral people into thinking their views are not valid or worthy.

    • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

      No, the word is an accurate description of the irrational reaction certain people have towards two people of the same sex displaying affection to each other under specific circumstances.

      Among men, it seems to correlate with repressed homosexual attractions on the part of the person who is outwardly homophobic.

      • Cyril Sneer

        “Among men, it seems to correlate with repressed homosexual attractions”

        No it doesn’t, I think you’ve watched too many movies. I’ve heard that statement before, there is no correlation to be found.

        I have nothing against gays but when you say irrational, I say BS mate – The sight of two men going at it repluses me, and repulses just about any other straight bloke out there. This is the reality! This is the true and most natural reaction of most people!

        Whilst I have nothing against gays, I should be able to openly display my disgust to such a sight.

        That’s not homophobic, that is a natural reaction to something which is rather unnatural and repulsive to most people.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          This article in Scientific American gives a brief summary and cites the published paper if you want to give it a look. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/homophobes-might-be-hidden-homosexuals/

          And whether it is learned behaviour or not (and the profound generational gap in this regard would imply it is), of course your disgust is irrational. What harm will Tom and Dan kissing do that Tom and Danielle kissing will not?

          As for expressing your disgust, by all means if you’re of a sensitive nature look away. There are people who have all sorts of weird phobias. Of course if someone starts hurling abuse at me for holding my partner’s hand I think we’d all agree that person is a rather awful individual and if he keeps it up might warrant a stern word from the local bobby.

          P.S. The Racoons was a great show (if occasionally exceptionally dark for kids tv)

          • Cyril Sneer

            I’m not totally convinced by that article but I don’t have time to go into detail.

            I think yes anti-homosexual behavours may well be more common in those who are attempting to resist or hide their true feelings. That is quite a common scenario in human behaviour I feel.

            And you’re right, someone giving you a hard time for holding your partners hand is not jusitified and is clear homophobic behaviour. At the same time, I think gays must at the same time respect others beliefs and keep any overt homosexual behaviour in its proper environment. Much the same as overt straight behaviour can offend in public, but admiittedly much less so than homosexual behaviour.

            I think the definition of homophobe has to be clearly defined before any honest discussion can take place otherwise we could very well be talking about completely different things.

            Big nod to the Racoons comment, yeah loved that show, and yeah it was dark for a kids show. I guess that’s why I liked it.

        • Fergus Pickering

          To tell the truth the sight of a man and a woman ‘going at it’ rather repulses me. But then I’m not a prurient voyeur like some people here.

      • kle4

        Among men, it seems to correlate with repressed homosexual attractions on the part of the person who is outwardly homophobic.

        Sometimes maybe. But sometimes people are just unpleasant, without an ulterior motive for their irrational hatred.

      • Now and then

        More rubbish – One need only look at your comments. You falsely and maliciously accuse at the drop of a hat because you are never held to account but angrily demand others be held for their thoughts and words – HYPOCRITE is thy name.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          The fact you view the notion that you may have suppressed homosexual attractions as an accusation, and are getting all flustered about it, is rather buttressing my point.

          As for being held to account, I seem to be the only one around here man enough to not have to hide behind a pseudonym.

          • Kitty MLB

            Just realised, you are Sammy Kaine, from ConHome.
            A lot us need to hide behind pseudonyms, although
            mine is a nic name.
            It could be worse. Remember William Blakes Ghost
            and Doggie Woggie from the other place.

          • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

            I understand many people having to post behind monikers, especially if they work in certain fields. What I will not abide however are those individuals lecturing others on being accountable for their opinions.

      • Peter_In_Wanstead

        Oh dear. For every “repressed homesxual” who sees homoexuality as deviant there are a dozen homosexuals with domineering mothers and weak or absentee fathers.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          Citation needed.

          • Peter_In_Wanstead

            Sorry, boss, but if you can introduce the ‘repressed homosexuality’ cliché then I can introduce a truism based on the (auto)biographies of numerous celebrity deviants and my personal experience of sevaral homosexuals. Ooh, err.

            And, in case you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t Wikipaedia.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Because the cricketers are brown and therefore whiter than white.

  • mikewaller

    This is either a very stupid article or, more likely, one written with a hidden agenda. Surely any fool knows that politics is the art of the possible. For example, we successfully went to war when the Argentinians sought to enforce their claims on the Falklands. However, although we, in theory, had absolute title to some parts of Hong Kong, we very sensibly gave the whole lot back to China. Only idiots would have sought to do otherwise.

    With regards sexual practices in India and Pakistan, our cultural differences are so great – a fundamental problem with immigration – that we haven’t got a cat in Hell’s chance of shifting their view. So what would be the point in trying? However, until the last week or so, we though that the new Russia had come to share at least some Western values. It therefore made sense to try to influence their approach to sexual diversity. Of course, now that that country has again revealed itself as an unreformed, highly aggressive, reactionary old bear, this approach no long makes as much sense.

  • saffrin

    If homosexuals feel offended, disrespected, alienated amongst the many, tough.
    Minorities need to be put back in the box and treated as such.
    A minority with little value, if any, to the many.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Did that apply to Alan Turing?

      Stupid comment.

  • Andrew Saint

    In the run-up to the Winter Olympics, the left-liberal Metropolitan elite who run Channel 4 News ran a series of bitchy reports on homophobia in Russia. It will be interesting if they do the same on Bangladesh in terms of the world cricket championship. However as C4N is actually a PR organ for mass third world immigration and multiculturalism in Britain, don’t hold your breath.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    The answer to the question posed in the title should be obvious even to the meanest intelligence. Cricketers don’t sit in each other’s laps.

  • coffeeHouse1982

    I’ve found this to be a powerful antidote for the intellectual plague of today’s liberals and progressives: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

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