Gay Owned Rugby Team Keighley Cougars Champion LGBT+ Rights

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In a bold move that sets a new standard for sports teams worldwide, Keighley Cougars, a League One rugby league club, has emerged as a beacon of support for LGBT+ rights. Under the ownership of husbands Ryan O’Neill and Kaue Garcia, the club has not only embraced its role as an ally but has also taken significant steps to advocate for the community, particularly focusing on trans rights this season.

The commitment of the Cougars to LGBT+ rights is not just about flying rainbow flags or dedicating terraces to Pride; it’s about creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of their identity. This was vividly demonstrated in their recent game dedicated to LGBT+ History Month, where a massive ‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’ flag was unfurled, sending a powerful message of inclusivity and support.

Speaking to Mirror Sport, O’Neill said: “We see it as having a small platform, but it is a platform and we want to do more than just put rugby players on the pitch. We’ve been through the trauma of being in the closet.

“I just thought there’d be other kids in Keighley living the same experience, terrified of telling anybody, and if we can actually try to make it a bit more mainstream, something people can be proud of rather than fearful, we have this platform.

“This season we’re concentrating more on trans rights. We feel that it’s our responsibility to consider it more, be kinder to one another and understand that trans people need respect and acceptance. So this season is going to be more about that.”

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The club’s efforts extend beyond symbolic gestures. O’Neill and Garcia have faced significant backlash for their stance, yet this has only strengthened their resolve. They understand the importance of their platform and the impact it can have on individuals struggling with their identity, particularly in a sport and region not traditionally associated with such progressive values.

“We’ve owned the club for the last five years, we get constant abuse, it’s not news. On 1 February we promoted a banner saying it’s LGBT+ History Month and these are the reasons why it matters,” Garcia said.

The invitation of a young trans girl and her father to a game is a testament to the personal touch the Cougars are bringing to their advocacy. It’s not just about making a statement; it’s about changing lives, one person at a time.

As the Cougars continue to face challenges and opposition, their commitment to LGBT+ rights and their proactive approach in supporting the trans community set a commendable example for sports teams everywhere. It’s a reminder that sports can be a powerful vehicle for social change, and the Keighley Cougars are leading the charge with courage and conviction.

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