The Los Angeles Police Department has become the first law enforcement group to sponsor the Gay Games after announcing its support for next summer’s competition in Chicago.

At least 12 officers have signed up to compete in the 2006 Gay Games VII and plan on wearing their police uniforms during the opening ceremony, scheduled for July 15.

The LAPD will also be using the games as a recruitment drive. Officer Michael Jolicoeur, who oversees the department’s gay and lesbian recruitment said: “There are two messages, we are hiring and they can be whoever they are, no matter what that is.”

Events will include tennis, squash, racquetball, diving, water polo and wrestling.

Meanwhile the games, which are open to anyone, have already started courting controversy with groups threatening to boycott sponsors.

The 2006 Gay Games VII in Chicago is expected to bring more than 100,000 people and millions of dollars in tourist revenue to the city. Federation of Gay Games co-president Robert Mantaci said: “Progress in Chicago is on track with more sponsors, thousands of athletes already registered, and, for the first time, television coverage of a Gay Games.”