The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Brussels joins other European cities in protest against Uefa's rainbow decision

Illustration picture shows the heritage buildings on the Brussels Grand Place / Grote Markt lit up in the colours of the LGBTQI+ rainbow flag in the Brussels city centre. (BELGA PHOTO SISKA GREMMELPREZ)
06:00 24/06/2021

The Brussels Grand Place was lit in rainbow colours on Wednesday evening in response to European football association Uefa's refusal to allow Munich's Allianz Arena to be similarly lit for the Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary.

Munich asked Uefa for permission to light up its football stadium in the rainbow colours on Wednesday evening in protest against the anti-LGBTQI+ law recently passed in Hungary. The Germans played their final group game of the tournament against the Hungarians at the Allianz Arena which Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban was due to attend.

Orban reportedly cancelled his trip to watch the crucial game amid the planned protest against the law which will see a ban on LGBT educational content being taught to children. The Hungarian PM had earlier called on German politicians to accept the decision by Uefa not to allow the display.

Uefa said that the proposal to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours was a political request, linked to the presence of the Hungarian football team. "For Uefa, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our strong commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society," it said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.

In protest at that decision, buildings in several European cities were illuminated in rainbow colours on Wednesday. It was first announced that the Ghent Ghelamco Arena would be lit up before Brussels mayor Philippe Close revealed that the Grand Place would also join the list of participating locations. "Love is love in the heart of the European capital," Close tweeted.

The Brussels parliament building also displayed a rainbow flag to "reaffirm its concern, to promote inclusion, human dignity and equality - values at the heart of the European project, while in Hungary the parliament adopts a series of discriminatory amendments against the LGBTQI+ community,” said the president of the regional assembly, Rachid Madrane, in a statement.

Uefa’s decision to prevent the lighting of the Munich stadium created a huge swell in support for the LGBTQI+ community in Germany. While the stadium itself complied with the decision, many other arenas across Germany were lit in rainbow colours throughout the evening. In Munich itself the city’s mayor Deiter Reiter ensured there was some protest, as six huge rainbow-coloured flags were hoisted at the town hall and a wind turbine close to the stadium was illuminated. Munich’s 290-metre-tall Olympic Tower was also lit up in the colours.

The game itself, a dramatic 2-2 draw which ended Hungary’s participation in the competition, was briefly disrupted by a rainbow flag-waving protestor who ran on to the pitch during the national anthems.

In an attempt to calm the situation, Uefa reaffirmed its "firm commitment" against homophobia and added its own rainbow logo to its official feed on Twitter.

Written by Nick Amies