Gay referee David Gough slams GAA's refusal to allow Mayo to wear rainbow-coloured jerseys

“It’s an abhorrent decision by the GAA. I saw their statement and it was an unwise choice of words.”

Referee David Gough wears black GAA jersey during a game, Gough slams GAA decision to prevent Mayo from wearing rainbow jerseys.
Image: Twitter @mayogaabanter

David Gough, Gaelic Football’s first openly-gay referee, has condemned the Gaelic Athletic Association’s (GAA) decision to prevent Mayo players from wearing rainbow colour numbers on their jerseys.

Last week, the GAA took the controversial decision to deny Mayo’s request to wear rainbow-coloured numbers on their jerseys, saying that jerseys should be “sacrosanct”. They also said that rainbow-coloured numbers are difficult for match officials and spectators to read. This has caused backlash from players and fans alike.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One last Saturday, Gough said: “It’s an abhorrent decision by the GAA. I saw their statement and it was an unwise choice of words.”

Mayo had put forward a request to wear the special edition jerseys in support of the LGBTQ+ community during the 2023 Allianz Football League season. The request came after their charity partner former Mayo footballer Peadar Gardiner and Project Manager of Mindspace Mayo, suggested the move as a show of solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, but the application was denied by officials at Croke Park.

The team wore rainbow laces in 2020’s All-Ireland semi-final, and Gough pointed out that GAA players have worn jerseys supporting various foundations before therefore the request from Mayo should have been granted, “So precedent had been set beforehand and it’s just strange to see that they’re singling out the LGBTQ+ community.”

Gough also emphasised that team sponsors likely would have supported the move since eir, AIB, SuperValu, Bord Gáis, and Centra have supported Pride events across Ireland. Adding, “AIB and Bord Gáis are two of the greatest supporters of Pride within Dublin and I’ve been part of the most recent SuperValu campaign so it would be interesting to see how the sponsors take this ban.”

This is not the first time that the GAA has prohibited clothing that supports the LGBTQ+ community. In the lead-up to the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015, Gough was prohibited from wearing a rainbow wristband as he officiated a league fixture between Dublin and Tyrone. At the time, the referee was told that Croke Park was not the place to make “political gestures”. Gough has since emphasised that supporting the LGBTQ+ community is not a political statement, rather, it’s showing support for a human rights movement.

A spokesman from the GAA has stated that the organisation is not anti-LGBTQ+ and that players are welcome to wear rainbow bootlaces or armbands if they wish.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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