Tackling Homophobia

The Gay Football Supporters' Network hosted a discussion on homophobia in football and how to tackle homophobic abuse. Drawing from anecdotal experiences of fans, and the survey work initiated by Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters' Club, this session highlighted the issue and proposed ways for the FSF and GFSN to pro-actively campaign in the coming season. The GFSN explain more...

Recent research undertaken by the GFSN alongside the Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters' Club shows that homophobic chanting and abusive language remains a big problem in English football. In this workshop GFSN Chair, Chris Basiurski, and Andy Harvey, a leading researcher into homophobia in football, talked to a group of about 25 delegates at the conference.

Chris and Andy made clear why homophobic chanting is always unacceptable and cannot be seen in the same light as some of the ‘banter’ that football fans have always engaged in over the years. They highlighted the fact that whereas most banter stays on the terrace, gay fans still face real abuse and physical danger in their lives outside of football. This abuse can sometimes lead to physical attacks and deaths. It is for this reason that it is vital not to allow a culture of casual homophobia to continue in football.

As part of the workshop, Chris and Andy also dispelled some of the myths and stereotypes that surround gay people, such as our apparent lack of interest in or ability to play football. They made it clear that football is can be played and watched by everyone, regardless of their sexuality.

The workshop asked participants to discuss among themselves what the FSF and SD can do to help prevent homophobia in football and how the GFSN might help. A number of good ideas were mentioned including training for stewards and lobbying of clubs to take the issue more seriously and to enforce the ground rules which already exist and ban homophobic chanting. It was agreed to set up a joint working group which would be tasked with taking the issue forward and proposing concrete actions that can be taken by fans and their clubs.

Concluding the workshop, Chris said: "It is essential that football takes homophobia as seriously as racism. Quite rightly, racist language is regarded as wholly unacceptable. Homophobic language should be treated in the same way. It is time for the football authorities to do something. We look forward to working with the FSF and SD to bring an end to homophobic chanting at games."