Homophobia & Transphobia in Football

Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay or bisexual, whilst Transphobia is used to describe a range of negative attitudes or behaviours that a person may express towards transgender people or those perceived as being transgender.

The phrases ‘homophobia in football’ or ‘transphobia in football’ are often used without defining the nature of LGBTphobia.

The Football v Homophobia Campaign works from an understanding that homophobia and transphobia are not uniform phenomena experienced in the same way by all LGBT sports participants. We believe homophobia and transphobia can appear differently in different football contexts and cultures – on a continuum from lack of acceptance of LGBT participants to outright verbal and physical abuse.

Homophobia & Transphobia In Sport

Homophobia in sport is well documented. Research by Scotland’s Equality Network ‘Out for Sport’ (2011) shows that of more than 1,700 respondents, 79% thought that there was a problem of homophobia in sport, whilst 62% had witnessed or experienced homophobia or transphobia in sport. Amongst trans respondents the numbers of those having experienced or witnessed homophobia or transphobia in sport rose to 80%. These findings, whilst focused on Scotland, are widely seen as transferable to other UK contexts.

Research undertaken by the National Union of Students during 2012, which surveyed the opinions of 845 LGBT students, found that 46.8% of respondents experienced sport culture as ‘alienating or unwelcoming’.

Meanwhile, the Youth Chances Survey (2013) found a third of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual young people and 50% of young trans people aged 16-25 do not feel they can be open about their sexuality or gender identity in a sports club.

During 2016 research by Stonewall, the UK LGBT human rights charity found that:

  • 72 per cent of football fans have heard homophobic abuse
  • One in five 18 to 24 year-olds say they’d be embarrassed if their favourite player came out
  • Young people are twice as likely to say anti-LGBT language is harmless if it’s just meant as ‘banter’
  • The majority of people think that offensive language towards LGBT people in sport is a problem

Whilst it is clear attitudes are changing, there is still a widespread problem with homophobic and transphobic language in football and this affects the experience of LGBT people watching, playing, officiating and administrating the game. It impacts particularly on the experience of LGBT children and young people in football who may feel especially vulnerable and isolated if they hear negative comments at a time when they are discovering their own identities.

Get involved with Football v Homophobia and help us make a difference today.