Club show their support for LGBT people in sport
Brentford Football Club has joined Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign to show that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are welcome at every level of sport and that homophobia is unacceptable. Thousands of people across Britain, from fans to players, will lace up this weekend as part of a UK-wide campaign to make sport everyone’s game. And Brentford FC will be playing its part at the Sky Bet Championship game against Birmingham City.
The Rainbow Laces weekend – which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, 26 and 27 November, follows research by ICM that reveals homophobic language is still regularly heard at live sporting events. According to the study, 72 per cent of football fans have heard anti-LGBT remarks at live games in the past five years. Despite this, the majority of people support LGBT people in sport according to the research, with nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) saying more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted.
This weekend Stonewall, the leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, is calling on fans, players and governing bodies to visibly show their support for LGBT people in sport. Brentford is one of dozens of football clubs backing the campaign, which has been endorsed by governing bodies including English Football League, Football Association, Premiership Rugby and Premier League.
Brentford will be turning over the front cover of the match day programme from the game against Birmingham – taking place at Griffin Park at 3pm on Saturday – to support the campaign with further materials inside. Rainbow laces have been made available for all players this week and captain Harlee Dean was one of the players that have been wearing them.
Mark Devlin, Brentford FC Chief Executive, said: “Brentford FC is supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign to show that we do not accept anti-LGBT chants, language or behaviour in any way, shape or form. Football has worked hard to combat various forms of discrimination in recent years and we want our sport to be open to all players and fans, no matter who they are or who they love.
“We are proud that Griffin Park has a reputation for being somewhere that all fans can watch football in a safe and welcoming environment. As a club we have a responsibility to ensure the message that homophobia is unacceptable is heard in our community and I hope that our support for this campaign does that.”
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: “Such high-profile support is crucial for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people who want to take part in sport, either as players or fans, but feel unsafe, unwelcome or unable to be themselves. We need fans, players, clubs and governing bodies to stand up as allies so that we can make sport everyone’s game.
“Homophobic abuse has absolutely no place in sport, either at grass roots or professional level, yet there is a persistent, and vocal, minority who believe anti-LGBT language is harmless. The majority of people believe homophobic chants and abuse are a problem, and this weekend is about encouraging that majority to step up and show they will not stand for this abuse.”
Stonewall has developed a range of measures to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport. This includes a training programme for sports coaches who work with young people so they can ensure they are making sport inclusive. The charity has also developed a sports toolkit for grassroots and community sport to build awareness and understanding of the issues affecting LGBT people, and how they can help ensure all sports offer an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.
Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign is supported by TeamPride, a group of global organisations committed to LGBT equality.