The Warwick Rowers have been banned for YouTube despite achieving worldwide recognition after fundraising for equality.
The naked athletes have been long standing supportive figures for the LGBT community, and in 2014 they were awarded the PinkNews Community Group of the Year award.
At the time Mrs Morgan joked that she attempted to access the Rowers’ website but that it was blocked from Department for Education computers.
She said: “My office tried to show me their website on the Department for Education computers, but then we found that their website was blocked. When they subsequently showed me on their iPhones, I quickly saw why. They have won a PinkNews Award for their full monty fundraising efforts, but I have to report that they are wearing their clothes tonight here in Speaker’s House.”
But according to a statement from the University of Warwick’s rowing team, they were banned from YouTube for being “pornographers”.
It now appears their account has been unblocked, but it is unclear how long they were blocked for and if they will be barred from posting again.
A statement from photographer Angus Malcolm and the Rowers, reads: “Several years ago, the plucky Warwick Rowers were thrown off Google Checkout’s payment processing service without notice – a decision that was upheld on appeal, on the grounds that the Warwick Rowers are pornographers.
“Today, in a similar vein, YouTube has decided that the rowers’ public awareness campaign aimed at promoting greater tolerance among young people is unsuitable for, uh, young people. Way to go, Google!
“Bizarrely, Google were a lot more relaxed only a few days ago when the Warwick Rowers reported that a Google user was illegally sharing their charity fundraising content. Google twice rejected the Warwick Rowers appeal for help, before shutting up shop for the weekend with the content still available, and did not manage to respond effectively until after the rowers threatened legal action against the corporation. ‘And these are the guys who promise to do no evil,’ commented one rower, saddened at seeing their hard work for charity being undermined by the massive corporation. ‘That’s not been our experience at all.’”
“And these are the guys who promise to do no evil… That’s not been our experience at all,” said one rower.
Year on year the group produce a calendar and proceeds from sales are donated to charities, including the Sport Allies charity the team set up, that work towards equality.
Sport Allies is about to launch an academic report on homophobia and gender inequality.
A spokesperson for the Warwick Rowers said on announcing their 2017 calendar last week: “There has been a 147% increase in homophobic attacks post Brexit, and it seems likely the Trump vote will amplify this globally.
“Never before has the LGBT community had greater need of its straight allies to assert that the battle for LGBT rights comes not from self-interest but from a belief in justice.”
The Warwick Rowers project is one of the world’s most eye-catching straight ally projects, and its influence continues to grow.
The team began their calendar journey in 2009, and have delivered their product globally. They aim to promote positive, inclusive and respectful attitudes towards people of all genders and sexualities through the content.
The team went to London Pride for the first time this year to challenge homophobia and break down perceptions.
One rower said: “People that are LGBT+, especially during their school years, face difficulties conforming to their identities especially because of heterosexual norms but your true identity is the best way to be.”
“Homophobia is still a problem in support and we’re here to challenge that. I’m naked for inclusion,” added another.
You can watch the teaser trailer (slightly NSFW) here: