English Chess Federation president CJ de Mooi said he was discouraged from handing out awards at the British Chess Championships on Saturday for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!"
The Guardian reports that de Mooi, a panelist on the BBC quiz show Eggheads and president of the chess federation since 2009, was "shaking with fury" after a competition organizer suggested he change his shirt prior to the award presentations. He said he was then asked to present prizes to adult winners only. "I refused. I was either going to present all the prizes or none at all," de Mooi said.
Laura Barnes, championship arbiter of event, told the Guardian that despite her concerns about the shirt, she didn't demand a wardrobe change from de Mooi: "I didn't think that promoting gay rights, which I thoroughly agree with, while presenting prizes to junior chess players was an appropriate thing," she said. "Usually prize-givers for a national event would wear a suit and tie."
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Via English Chess Forum, de Mooi's statement:
At this morning's prize-giving ceremony of the Darwin Strategic British Chess Championships 2011 an arbiter approached me saying she had "personal reservations" about me wearing a Stonewall t-shirt when presenting prizes to juniors. It was apparently inappropriate for me to wear something mentioning "sexuality" in such an environment.
I did not consider this an issue as I had worn it the previous day in the playing hall and no objections were raised. I am fully CRB checked and was registering my public support of a charity.
The other 2 arbiters said "no problem with it" and "I hadn't actually noticed" but after a discussion returned and suggested if I wanted to wear it, I could just present to the adults. I refused saying "I either present all the prizes or none" but I would leave it as their decision.
After another consultation (I point out that this whole series of events took 5 or 6 minutes in total) I was asked if I would reconsider, to which I responded "Will you?" This gentleman then said he had been told there had been "some complaints" but I have seen nothing to corroborate this so cannot comment.
I took a seat and the awards party was named with Roger Edwards (who has done a wonderful job for the fortnight) taking the honours.