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Up for debate

Compiled by Jessie WingardJanuary 9, 2014

The announcement that former German international soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger is gay prompted many of our Facebook followers to debate whether sports people's sexuality should be a matter for public scrutiny.

Thomas Hitzlsperger Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

German soccer international Thomas Hitzlsperger made news in Germany and across the world on Wednesday (08.01.2014) when he publically announced he is gay.

Now retired, the 31-year-old told the German weekly "Die Zeit" that coming out was a "long and difficult process." Hitzlsperger went on to say that he went public with his sexuality as he wanted "to advance the discussion to homosexuality among professional athletes." Adding that the issue of homosexuality within soccer had for too long been "simply ignored."

As the story broke, DW (English) asked their Facebook followers whether the sexuality of high-profile people should be a matter for public debate.

Here's an overview of what people are saying about Hitzlsperger's announcement on DW English's Facebook page. You can still join in the discussion.

Paul Joseph Canniff: When something has stigma attached to it, a revelation by a well-known person can reduce the stigma and help others feel more confident about themselves. Many of you may be too young to remember when having cancer was considered shameful, and slowly we have changed that to the point where we have charity runs every week and where cancer brings out sympathy and community support. Social stigmas for things people can't, and/or should be asked to change, cause a tremendous amount of suffering. So, yeah, these people do a public good by discussing "private" matters. If it makes you uncomfortable, consider how your "discomfort" affects your friends and family if they have something important they are forced to keep secret.

Tobias Larsson: I wish more gay athletes would come out. To show that it is possible and to finally make it a non-issue. Kudos to Hitzlsperger. The only way to make people see that gay people are perfectly capable of being athletes, doctors, firefighters, you-name-its is for gay people doing perfectly normal things to come out. To become normal regular people in the eye of the grand public and not to be something exotic or scary. That's the only reason why it would matter.

Karl Werner: It's only a big deal because people make it a big deal.

Judy Rempel Prachnau: No, they need to keep their private lives private.

Yosra Karaani: No he's free! It's his own life!

Méndez JD: Sexuality is private and has nothing whatsoever to do with your job. You're supposed to be capable because you're good at what you do, period. There are players, not gay players. Stop defining by what you do in bed and start defining yourself by what you do outside of it. That's how anyone in the field or in any other endeavor earns respect. What does it matter and what does that have to do with your sport? They keep defining themselves for what they do in bed.

Claudia Santibañez: Who cares?

Ricky Daniels: If one chooses to live a public life of non-heterosexuality, I can attest personally that there will be a price to be paid - remember that we are talking about not just visible non-heterosexuality; we are talking about public non-heterosexuality. This extends far beyond sports.

Alan Garth Tuttle: No one's sexuality should be made public - unless children are being sexually abused.

Victor Chan: Tell me, why I should care about if he is gay or not?

Elmer Adam Monteza: Is he available? Would love to go on a date with him.

Azam Ali Soomro: It is a personal matter and should be kept personal. It can make a difference towards a player's popularity and love of the fans all over the world!

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson Steffen Seibert applauded Hitzlsperger's decision to make his sexuality public, tweeting: "We live in a country where no one should be afraid to acknowledge his sexuality [because of intolerance]."

Should sports stars sexuality be up for public debate? When such an announcement is made, does it warrant the media attention it gets? Join the discussion here.