29 Nov 2018

Sports fans back off challenging homophobic comments

1:34 pm on 29 November 2018

More than half of British people think it is important to challenge homophobic language at live sporting events but only one quarter feel confident enough to do so.

Those are the key statistics from a new survey on attitudes to discrimination at sports events by Stonewall, the UK's leading charity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) equality.

"Sport is one of our strongest tools for social change, which is why it's so powerful to see so many people wanting to do more to support LGBT people and challenge anti-LGBT abuse in sport," said Stonewall director of sport Kirsty Clarke in a statement.

"Over the past few years, we've seen inspiring work from many sporting associations who are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere," she said.

Autumn International, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy 24/11/2018
Italy vs New Zealand All Blacks
Dalton Papalii and Ardie Savea after the game, wearing rainbow laces on their boots in support of Gareth Thomas.
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport

"We want more players, fans, clubs and organisations to join in and understand how they can play a part in changing attitudes and standing up for LGBT equality. Our work won't be finished until every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person, from fans to players, is accepted without exception."

The publication of the research, which is based on a poll of 1000 British adults, coincides with the start of Stonewall's annual Rainbow Laces campaign.

Professional and amateur players from a range of sports are invited to wear the distinctive laces until December 7 to show their support for LGBT people.

The All Blacks wore rainbow laces in their final test of the year against Italy in support of the LGBT community and in particular former Welsh captain Gareth Thomas who was the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff.

A key focus for Stonewall this year will be how to change the survey's "hesitant allies" into "active allies".

The charity has suggested some tips that everyone can try, which include wearing rainbow laces, minding your language and reporting abuse.

Stonewall's research comes a day after Kick It Out, the equality and inclusion organisation, reported a sixth straight annual increase in reports of discriminatory language in English football.