‘A good thing’ for footballers to express values, says France’s PM

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne - speaking in Berlin - said that footballers should be allowed to express their values, amid controversy over FIFA's stance against the 'OneLove' armband on the pitch.

'A good thing' for footballers to express values, says France's PM
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) and French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne shake hands after delivering a joint press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on November 25, 2022. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

“There are rules for what happens on the field but I think it’s a good thing for players to be able to express themselves on the values that we obviously completely share, while respecting the rules of the tournament,” said Borne at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

Germany’s players made headlines before Wednesday’s shock loss to Japan when the team lined up for their pre-match photo with their hands covering their mouths after FIFA’s threat to sanction players wearing the rainbow-themed armband.

Seven European nations, including Germany, had previously planned for their captains to wear the armband, but backed down over FIFA’s warning.

Following Germany’s action, Wales and the Netherlands have since come out to say they would not mirror the protest.

Borne’s visit to Germany was her first since she was named to her post in May.

Following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two leaders signed an agreement for “mutual support” on “guaranteeing their energy supplies”.

Concrete measures outlined in the deal include France sending Germany gas supplies as Berlin seeks to make up for gaping holes in deliveries from Russia.

Germany meanwhile would help France “secure its electricity supplies over winter”, according to the document.

France had since 1981 been a net exporter of electricity to its neighbours because of its nuclear plants. But maintenance issues dogging the plants have left France at risk of power cuts in case of an extremely cold winter.

The two leaders also affirmed their countries’ commitment to backing Ukraine “to the end of” its conflict with invaders Russia.

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Germany simplifies gender change procedure

Germany's government has agreed to simplify the administrative procedure for people wanting to change gender, a move long demanded by the LGBTQ community, a spokesman for the ruling party said Saturday.

Germany simplifies gender change procedure

 “As a parliamentary group of the (ruling) SPD, we expressly welcome the fact that the law on self-determination is finally moving forward,” Jan Plobner, spokesman for the Social Democrat party on issues concerning transgender people in the Bundestag, told AFP.

Under the agreement, which was revealed by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, transgender, intersex and non-binary people will in future have only to self-declare if they wish to change their first name or gender notation in the civil registry.

The procedure had been governed by a law dating from the 1980s that considered trans issues mental illness.

Those wanting to change their gender have been obliged to submit two psychological evaluations with a court ultimately taking the decision. That procedure is long, costly and deemed degrading by those concerned.

“The undignified procedure will soon be a thing of the past,” Plobner said.

The agreement between the justice and family ministries will allow the bill to be finalised, “so that the legislation can hopefully be applied soon,” said Sven Lehmann, the government’s representative for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

It notably resolves the sensitive issue of gender changes for minors, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

For those under 14, only parents or guardians will be able to initiate proceedings.

For those over 14 whose parents would oppose such a move, it is a court that will have to decide.

A time for reflection is also planned, with the civil change only coming into effect after a cooling off period of three months.

A new request for a gender change will only be possible after a year.

The government of Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz, allied with the Greens and Liberals, has vowed to fight discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

In November 2022, it adopted a wide-ranging plan of action that included a specific codification of the community’s rights in the constitution.