– Giro d’Italia (@giroditalia) May 4, 2022
Last week on the blog we reported on the Giro d’Italia organizers’ mealy-mouthed response to concerns about the grand tour starting in Hungary, where far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán has refused to support sanctions against Russia and anti-LGBT + legislation has been passed in recent years.
In 2020 the Hungarian government made it impossible for transgender or intersex people to legally change their gender, while last year the country’s parliament unanimously voted to prohibit the dissemination of any content to minors which depicts gay or transgender people.
However, the CEO of Giro organisers RCS, Paulo Bellino, told reporters last week that he hoped to draw a line between sport and politics (and also, presumably, the real-life effects of those political decisions on gay and transgender people in Hungary) .
“I think that I would like to go out and not take into consideration politics,” Bellino said.
“I have no barrier and I think that our intention is to create an incredible event, in an Italian style, with the best riders in the world competing and giving the opportunity of a great party. I’m not entering into any political or different situation.
“I’m a sports organizer, I think that sport is the only moment in our lives as a society where everybody is free to demonstrate their capabilities, and their passion. There are no barriers. I would like for the Giro d’Italia in Budapest to do the same thing. ”
> Enjoy the Giro … just don’t mention politics
Groupama-FDJ’s Italian Jacopo Guarnieri, well-known for his support of LGBT + rights, took a decidedly different stance, visibly displaying a trans rights wrist band at the Giro’s team presentation last week.
Guarnieri, who only spoke to reporters upon the race’s return to Italy for far of retaliation, said the protest was “a kind of silent but not silent message”, and admits he is not sure whether the race should have started in Hungary.
“Basically, this was a topic in my mind for a long time because, as you all know, the law was approved in Hungary in the middle of 2021,” the 34-year-old said during Monday’s rest day.
“I spoke about it already in December with [Hungarian teammate] Attila Valter, and I asked him how the feeling was in the country and so on. It was my idea already a long time ago.
“In the beginning, I was thinking to have something with the rainbow flag on it. But coincidentally, two weeks before leaving for the Giro, a friend of mine came up with this bracelet, which is more of a trans flag. They told me the story from the cyclocross world championship [where activists protested the host state Arkansas’ anti-trans legislation]which was probably seen a bit more worldwide.
“I didn’t know what kind of support to use, but when I saw there was a bracelet, I decided to wear one during the presentation on stage, so it was kind of a silent but not silent message.”
> UCI world cyclocross championships under fire due to anti-trans laws in host state Arkansas
He continued: “We’re not superheroes, but you think they can’t say so much in public against a foreigner. I took the chance, and I took advantage of the fact that I was in a position where I was a little more safe.
“I thought maybe it could piss off somebody off, but I was thinking of the public more than the politicians.
“I thought maybe in the time trial somebody might try to punch me. But I thought about that and then I thought, ‘Well, a punch I can sustain.’ So I said, ‘OK, why not.’ After all, it’s Europe, so let’s try. I was confident I could pass the message without taking a risk. ”
While Guarnieri admitted to feeling “a bit afraid” about the protest before the team presentation, he said that the support he received on social media convinced him that it was the right call, though he says he has not heard from the organizers about their thoughts. on the issue.
Apparently if you share love (and respect), you get love 🏳️⚧️
– Jacopo Guarnieri (@jacopoguarnieri) May 5, 2022
The Italian lead out man also said that he hasn’t received much in the way of feedback from his fellow riders, but argued there are many reasons why pro cyclists – who were noticeably late to the party in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement which permeated sport – tends to be hesitant regarding their political views.
“With cycling, we don’t see so many, I think there are many reasons, I don’t think there’s just one explanation,” he said. “Some maybe don’t have any idea and maybe some are against.”
“Personally I’ve always been clear what my ideas are and I’m always clear to respectfully explain to someone some topics.
“Not everything can be brought into the discussion but for sure, I’m a person too after all. Let’s say, we’re not experts on international policy so I try to be more positive, I don’t have a solution for what Hungary can do for transexual people, I can just share my support and share a positive vibe. That’s me, simple as that. ”
When asked if it was right that the Giro’s Grande Partenza took place in Hungary (after accusations of sportswashing also surrounded the race’s trip to Israel in 2018), Guarnieri replied: “I don’t know actually, it’s hard to say. There are many things involved, and things also came from three years ago, when the laws weren’t already in place. I’m not an organizer so I don’t know what’s behind those decisions.
“If I look the other way, I can say I was there and I could show support while I was there. It’s hard to say, I think it’s a mix in between. Isolate and try to fight from the inside. It’s not my decision, like what you said before, try to be 100 percent honest with yourself, there are many places we shouldn’t go. It’s not easy.
“It’s a balance between fighting for what is right, and trying to survive in your own job. It won’t be any easier. It’s not my role to decide what’s behind this but I can have my personal view. On some things, I think it was right to honor the contract, on the other hand maybe not. ”