Players asked to support anti-homophobia drive

LONDON Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:36pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Professional players across Britain will be asked to wear rainbow-coloured laces in their boots next weekend in support of a campaign to tackle homophobia in football

Of the 5,000 or so players across the top leagues in England, Scotland and Wales none are openly gay, leading gay rights charity Stonewall to suggest that players are afraid to 'come out' because of the impact it could have on their careers.

Bookmakers Paddy Power are supporting the campaign which has the slogan "Right Behind Gay Footballers". Sets of rainbow-coloured laces will be distributed to the 134 professional clubs in Britain.

Attitudes in British football, whether it be at elite level or Sunday morning park leagues, are notoriously slow to change and Stonewall's deputy chief executive Laura Doughty said it was time the game was "dragged into the 21st Century".

"It's time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game," she said in a statement launching the week-long push.

"By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players."

Homophobia is still rife, according to a report compiled earlier this year by Brighton and Hove Albion's Supporters' Club and the Gay Football Supporters' Network.

The coastal city of Brighton has one of Britain's largest gay communities, leading to regular homophobic abuse from opposing fans during matches.

The report said Brighton fans had been subjected to homophobic abuse at 70 percent of away fixtures.

"Brighton fans have been the subject of "banter" about the city's gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember," a statement from the Brighton Supporters' Club said in April.

"It wouldn't be described as "banter" if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it."

In March, former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers said he was stepping back from the game after coming out as gay, saying he feared "judgement and rejection".

Three months later, Rogers became the first openly gay athlete to compete in a major U.S. professional team when the midfielder played for Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Comments (1)
F19ATREU wrote:
This article states that “if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it”. I disagree strongly with the statement.

Firstly, I believe that the assertion is not only factually incorrect but also misleading. Blacks and people of darker skin colour suffer far more disproportionately from direct and indirect discrimination daily than any other sectors of the society. For example, Blacks suffer from higher unemployment rate, more unwarranted stops and searches by the police, insidious and deeply embedded societal racism, systemic and biased profiling aka “institutionalised racism” more than any groups of people.

Why can’t Gay and Lesbians run any campaign about discrimination without inferring the race discrimination is accorded better treatment by the society or law? It seems to me that there is a concerted effort by some vested groups to take the focus and fight against discrimination away from racial to that of sexual-orientation.

In reality, Gays and Lesbians receive better deals from the society than Blacks and other persons of colour in the western world.
Being black or dark-skinned is something that you cannot escape, it is on your skin and visible to everyone and encoded on your DNA. So far as we known, being Gay or Lesbian is not DNA related and neither is it an obvious visual description. Hence Black people, Asians and other people of colour don’t need to come out, they are already outed by design of nature therefore an obvious target for discrimination.

Black and others races are far more discriminated against than Gays and Lesbians. You only need to check the work place, unemployment amongst Gays and Lesbians is far less than amongst Black and other people of colour.

I believe that it is time for Gays and Lesbians to restrict their arguments to the facts of their matter rather than using blacks and race discrimination as direct comparators or props in their fight for equality. This is taking the focus away from our flight whether inadvertently or is it deliberate?

Sep 16, 2013 5:27pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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