Sports boycotts,or indeed boycotts of any kind, seem to have lost their appeal. Maybe television, the world’s 24/7 sports stadium has outflanked them and made them almost irrelevant. Maybe today’s world is less outraged and recognises the grey between black and white more empathetically than those who so passionately protested over South African rugby teams coming to Ireland or Irish rugby teams visiting South Africa all those years ago.
A new form of boycott — disengagement — is gathering momentum in an effort to defend values not always shared by everyone, individuals or communities, in a relationship. Fermoy in Co Cork is the latest town to adopt this thanks-but-no-thanks approach. The town is to suspend or maybe terminate its twinning relationship with the Polish town Nowa Dęba, which is one of around 100 Polish municipalities with active policies against “LGBT ideology” and “propaganda”.
These issues are no longer issues in Ireland or most of Europe but Poland seems given to occasional outbursts of right-wing hostility towards minorities. The country, where elements of the Catholic hierarchy are vociferously homophobic, is one of just six European countries that does not facilitate marriage equality, a position criticised by the EU.
Fermoy is doing the right thing and maybe other towns might review long-standing relationships they have with others whose values are so very opposed to our own.