60% of sports fans witness homophobic abuse, finds survey

More than half of Scottish sports fans have heard homophobic abuse at sporting events and 15 per cent would be 'embarrassed' if their favourite player came out as gay, according to a new study.

The majority of Scots at sporting events have witnessed homophobic abuse. Picture: John Devlin

Equality charity Stonewall Scotland found 60 per cent of sports fans in Scotland have witnessed language or behaviour which was offensive to LGBT people in a sport setting in the past five years, compared to 51% of sports fans across Britain.

A total of 82 per cent of supporters who reported witnessing homophobic abuse said it happened during a football match.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Researchers found more than half of fans (51 per cent) would be “proud” if their favourite player came out as gay while 39% said they were “neutral” and 15 per cent would be “embarrassed”.

The majority of supporters (64 per cent) said anti-LGBT language and behaviour is a problem in sport and more than two-thirds (68%) said more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport.

More than half (58 per cent) said they wish more sports players were open about their sexual orientation while 79 per cent of respondents would be happy to play alongside a bisexual team-mate and 71 per cent with a transgender teammate.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland said: “The majority of Scottish sport fans see anti-LGBT chants and abuse as a problem and want sport to be a welcoming environment for everyone.

“There is, however, a minority who still see this type of abusive behaviour as acceptable on our terraces, in the pub or on social media.

“This minority of fans may think that anti-LGBT language is ‘harmless’ banter, but such insults and abuse makes LGBT fans and players feel unsafe, unwelcome and unable to be themselves.

“We need all our clubs, coaches, PE teachers and sports personalities to take a stand as allies against this behaviour and help make sport everyone’s game.”

The research was commissioned by Stonewall and surveyed 125 fans in Scotland as part of its Rainbow Laces campaign aimed at making sport everyone’s game.