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Rainbow fingernails "meant a lot"

Published måndag 19 augusti 2013 kl 17.55
"I think it was a great gesture"
(4:47 min)
Emma Green Tregaro's rainbow nails. Photo: Scanpix.

The Swedish athletes who painted their nails in rainbow colours in support of gay rights at the World Athletics Championships in Russia became world news at the end of last week, not least with Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and the country's sports minister defending their new law, which bans "gay propaganda" directed at children.

Swedish athletes Emma Green Tregaro and Moa Hjelmer said they painted their nails to support love, no matter what the gender.

And now the championships are over, will there be any lasting effect of this symbolic protest?

Mathilda Piehl from the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights says that it's fantastic that sports stars have spoken out, because in her research on young gay, lesbian and bisexual people in sport, she's been told many times that they've been bullied, and sports leaders didn't take a stand. She says that the recent protest could signal a big change.

"I think the manifestation really meant a lot," she told Radio Sweden. "And she's not the only one, a lot of Swedish sports people have just this week been talking about LGBT issues in public in Sweden. That is the first time it happens."

Piehl adds that she read interviews with ice hockey players from Sweden's national team on human rights and LGBT rights and felt: "Do you really think this, why didn't you say so before?"

However, she also wonders if it is easier for the Swedish sports stars to speak out as the target is another country: "Then you don't have to say anything about your own sports leader or your own federation."

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