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LGBTQ+ athletes call for ceasefire in Gaza, end to ‘bombing campaigns funded by the U.S.’

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Over a dozen LGBTQ+ athletes are among the 200+ professional sports players that have signed an open letter demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, taking a stand against what the letter calls the “unfolding genocide.”

First published last week, the Athletes for Ceasefire letter has been signed by out basketball players Layshia Clarendon, Natasha Cloud, Jasmine Thomas, Amanda Zahui B., boxer Patricio Manuel, climber Trish Ang, football player Sylvie Aibeche, gymnast Danell Johan Leyva, rugby player Ceara Lafferty, soccer player Hedvig Lindahl, and track athletes Emma Gee, Nikki Hiltz, and Erin Paget Dees.

“We call for humanity, empathy and an immediate ceasefire. In the wake of an unfolding genocide in Gaza, as described by countless legal scholars, human rights experts, and international organizations across the world,” the letter reads. “We, as athletes, recognize our moral responsibility to utilize our platform for a higher purpose: to save human lives and to raise awareness about this ongoing tragedy.”

Since Hamas’ October 7 attacks, in which 1,139 Israelis were killed and another 253 taken hostage, Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed over 29,000 Palestinians. Nearly all of Gaza’s over 2 million people have been displaced, with the vast majority of the dead being women and children, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health and reported by Reuters.

The letter was addressed U.S. President Joe Biden, calling on him to support an “immediate ceasefire,” which he has routinely refused to do. The athletes also criticized U.S. tax dollars being used to support Israel’s military campaign instead of what they say are issues directly impacting Americans.

They called on Biden to “redirect those resources to address pressing domestic needs such as education, healthcare, and helping the unhoused,” adding: “We are unable to turn a blind eye to the devastation being inflicted on civilians, especially children, in the Gaza Strip, through bombing campaigns funded in part by the U.S.”

The athletes said they drew inspiration from Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who raised their fists during the U.S. national anthem at the 1968 games to protest racial inequality in the country. The letter noted that the historic gesture was also “in part to demand that apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia be held to account.”

“As professional athletes, we underscore our shared humanity, and advocate for a path that respects all human life, regardless of religion or ethnic background,” the group said.

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