Thursday, 24 November 2016

Premier League pledges to promote LGBT acceptance

The Premier League has pledged to do more to promote LGBT acceptance and visibility in the sport by supporting gay charity Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign for a fourth year.

All 10 of this weekends Premier League fixtures on Saturday and Sunday will include rainbow perimeter board advertising, as well as pre-match rainbow flags on the pitch.

I do think in recent years the visibility of campaigns like this has increased and clubs seem more inclined to get on board with it.

Certainly more than a few years ago when I spoke to one particular club - Sunderland AFC, who had promised they would fly a rainbow flag in support of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - the day arrived, and initially, they didn't fly the flag. Upon contacting the Football Club I was told they weren't flying the flag as they didn't have one!

But someone soon did something about that delivered a flag to them - I wonder who did that ;). The flag was flown upside down but the sentiment was there, despite the arm twisting, as was reported by Pink News - click here

But there does seem to have been a shift from that and clubs seem to do things more willingly (as far as we know), though I'm sure Stonewall do some tireless effort all year round, behind the scenes to make sure such initiatives happen and get the exposure they need.

Today the Premier League began campaign activities by changing their social media profiles to show the PL Lion on a rainbow background...


Football clubs have also began to follow suit by changing their social media presence to rainbow colours also...


Other non-Premier League sides have also signed up to support the campaign including League One side Northampton and Championship side Preston North.

To me this action is absolutely imperative and should be part of a wider effort to tackle this issue.

A recent study found that 72% of football fans surveyed had heart anti-LGBT abuse at a game and when asked, one in five young fans said they would be embarrassed if their favourite footballer came out.

Furthermore a survey of 4,000 supporters conducted by BBC Radio 5 Live found that most would not have a problem if a gay player came out, with only 8% saying they would have a problem, going as far as to say they would not watch their team if an open gay player was on the side.

Elsewhere 71% of responders also said they felt clubs should be doing more to educate supporters about homophobia.

Personally I think we can run the risk of being overly negative, when good progress in terms of changing attitudes has been made. That progress now just has to be matched with more LGBT players feeling they can be themselves and come out.

Back in October the Chairman of the Football Association Greg Clarke told a Department of Media, Culture and Sport select committee that he would be "amazed" if there were no gay players in the Premier League, adding that he felt "ashamed" that to date no one had been confident enough to come out.

Top level Rugby sides in England and Wales will also support the campaign over the weekend.

Newcastle Falcons are one of those teams, who have got on board with the Northumbria Police's campaign against homophobia as well with a brilliant hash tag #BeingYouIsNotACrime


I think this is an absolutely fantastic hash tag and shows how serious homophobia is. It's a hate crime, and it shouldn't be tolerated in any setting including on the pitch, whether that be football or rugby, or any other sport for that matter, and that is the overriding message.

Being LGBT is not a crime and it isn't socially unacceptable, it is a part of someone like anything else, something which everyone should be able to express freely without fear of prejudice or harm. Let's just hope that with more and more campaigns like this occurring year on year that progress can continue to be made.

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