Most members of LGBT community feel unwelcome in sport, warns Stonewall

Study shows 66 per cent believe sport has a problem with homophobia and transphobia. Fifteen-year-old Devon McCole, who is on a week’s work experience placement from St Margaret Mary’s Secondary in Castlemilk, reports for CommonSpace

NEW research from Stonewall has raised concerns about attitudes towards LGBT+ people in sport.

Stonewall is a charity that works for, and with, many members of the LGBT community, and was set up in 1989 by a small group of people in retaliation to Section 28, controversial legislation which prohibited the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities, such as in schools. 

“We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they're not alone,” the organisation says on its website.

The research showed that two in three thought more should be done to tackle the issue and make LGBT people feel accepted.

This week, the charity posted research showing statistics found by an ICM Unlimited study in association with the Rainbow Laces Campaign (RLC), which takes place in November.The organisation interviewed 1,249 sport fans across Britain and conducted fieldwork in August 2016.

The study discovered sport was one of the areas LGBT people most felt out of place, with 66 per cent saying that they felt there were problems with homophobia and transphobia in sport, and that it acted as a barrier for members of the community to take part.

The research also showed that two in three thought more should be done to tackle the issue and make LGBT people feel accepted.

“Football fans are the most likely to hear homophobic abuse, with 72 per cent of fans hearing it while watching live sporting events in the past five years,” the report stated.

The goal of the Rainbow Laces Campaign – in which footballers across the country tie their boots with rainbow laces - is to help spread awareness and shed light on the abuse received by some members of the LGBT community.

The goal of the Rainbow Laces Campaign – in which footballers across the country tie their boots with rainbow laces – is to help spread awareness and shed light on the abuse received by some members of the LGBT community.

Last year’s campaign had many teams getting involved, including Manchester United, Arsenal and even betting company Paddy Power. This year, big brands like Adidas and Aviva insurance are getting stuck in.

In a move that will be welcomed by Stonewall, the Professional Football Association (PFA) has said it is proud to be taking part. 

The report stated: “We need high profile sports clubs and personalities to stand up as allies and help make sport everyone’s game by showing that homophobic abuse has no place in sport.”

Sixty-three per cent of people said that openly LGBT players would make a positive impact on the culture of sport, and 75 per cent of sport fans would be happy to play along with a bisexual teammate and 70 per cent alongside a transgender teammate.

Sixty-three per cent of people said that openly LGBT players would make a positive impact on the culture of sport.

However, young people are twice as likely to accept anti-LGBT chants and language as harmless if it is meant as “banter”.

Stonewall’s latest media release says that abuse is still regularly heard and homophobic views are still prevalent in sport. 

The group’s chief executive, Ruth Hunt, said: “While the majority of people see homophobic chants and abuse a problem, and want to see sport become more welcoming of lesbian gay, bi and trans players there is a persistent minority who believe this sort of abuse is acceptable.”

As one in five 18-24 year olds admit they would feel embarrassed if their favourite player came out, Stonewall says its work is not finished yet, not until everyone can feel free to be who they are, wherever they are.

Picture courtesy of ep_jhu

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