New study reveals widespread extent of homophobia in sport
by Our Sports Desk
THREE-QUARTERS of people have seen or been subjected to homophobic abuse in sport, horrifying new research revealed at the weekend, prompting calls for a zero-tolerance crackdown on bigotry.
A shocking 85 per cent of people said that they feared for the safety of openly gay spectators at sporting events.
The worldwide Out on the Fields study of homophobia interviewed nearly 9,500 people, including nearly 1,800 from Britain.
Its findings make for utterly unsettling reading.
Three-fifths of gay men and 54 per cent of lesbians said that they had personally been targeted with abuse — along with almost a quarter of straight men.
Former Leeds winger Robbie Rogers — now at LA Galaxy and only the second male footballer in Britain to come out — said: “It’s very disappointing to see that the overwhelming majority of people, including many straight people, had experienced homophobic discrimination.
“This is not acceptable; everyone should be able to enjoy sports.”“It’s time that all sports enforce zero-tolerance of hateful language on and off the fields.
“I strongly support immediate venue bans for anyone using homophobic, racist or any other form of discriminatory language. Players also need to receive stiff penalties for using this language.
“It is also important that international governing bodies, including Fifa, make committed and determined efforts to ensure LGBTI people feel welcome.”
More encouragingly, the report noted that 27 per cent of lesbians under 22 and 30 per cent of gay men — double the figure in other English-speaking countries — had come out to their entire team.
Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas said he was “very inspired to see that more gays and lesbians are gaining the courage to come out of the closet in youth sport.
“It is even more amazing that they are doing this despite the widespread homophobic behaviour that continues to be reported around sporting fields and among fans.”
The survey also asked people what they wanted to see done. An overwhelming majority said that there must be more education of young people and a zero-tolerance approach by PE teachers, who should receive training on supporting LGBT youth.