Fighting Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia

8 April 2019
LGBTI banner

Fighting Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia

As previously mentioned in the ‘Anti-Racism Focus Day’ article, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ and LGBTI people are no exception.

Worldwide, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are still frequently subject to discrimination and maltreatment based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. In many countries having same-sex partners remains a crime with people being arrested, imprisoned, or even executed as we have seen with the recent controversy involving Brunei. Even in countries with legal protection of sexual orientation, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia stigmatisation remains high, leading to social exclusion with economic and health-related costs on societies. Football is not immune to this either and it is well documented that there is not one active male professional player in Europe who has announced publicly that they are LGBTI.

This focus day pays tribute to all those who work to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTI persons, especially by using sport as a tool for social inclusion.

Premier League & Stonewall 

The Premier League supports Stonewall’s #RainbowLaces campaign to encourage fans and athletes to be “active allies” and to play their part in ensuring LGBT people feel included in sport. For one round of games, all Premier League matches featured a bespoke Rainbow Laces pitch flag, ball plinth, handshake board and substitutes board. Rainbow captain’s armbands and laces were available for players, and LED boards highlighted the campaign. The League’s social media channels featured a rainbow Premier League logo and promote campaign messages. Also, many clubs like Chelsea, or Liverpool supported the campaign by changing the profile pictures of their Facebook pages with a rainbow coloured background.

The Premier League and Stonewall announced a three-year partnership to help further promote LGBT equality in football. This involves a collaboration between the League and its clubs, and Stonewall to encourage LGBT people to get involved in the sport, whether playing, supporting a club, or working in an off-pitch role, and to improve the experience of the LGBT community. See more photos in the gallery.

Kick It Out

After years of footballers resisting speaking out on the subject of homophobia, Kick It Out released a powerful video, with some famous players like Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghan, and Juan Mata. In the clip below, players denounce homophobic language, bad behaviour and abuse. Kick It Out is one of the leading equality and inclusion organisations in England. Working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change, Kick It Out is at the heart of the fight against discrimination for everyone who plays, watches or walks in football.

VFL Wolfsburg

VfL Wolfsburg has been campaigning against discrimination for a long time and in different ways. The fight against homophobia and sexism is a big part of the club’s anti-discrimination work. During the 2018/2019 season, the club launched the ‘One Club, One Commitment‘ campaign in which the Volkswagen Arena was lit with the rainbow colours. Wolfsburg also organised a Streetkick event against homophobia together with the City of Wolfsburg. Earlier this year during the ‘2019 Diversity Weeks’, VfL Wolfsburg sent out a clear message against discrimination thanks to a special-edition shirt worn by both the men’s and women’s teams. The latter side featured the hashtag ‘#Vielfalt’ (Diversity) printed in rainbow colours.

FARE & Football v Homophobia

In 2011, Fare and FvH joined forces to work across the different levels of football and help bring about a positive change. As part of this partnership, several initiatives, such as conferences, workshops, tournaments, and more, have been organised to advocate for LGBT rights and ensure that everyone can enjoy, participate in and practice football. In addition to this, every year, groups across Europe and beyond are supported by Fare and FvH to run anti-homophobia, biphobia, transphobia football-related activities on the Football v Homophobia Month of Action and around the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This year during the FvH Month of Action, clubs like Tottenham Hotspur FC dedicated one of their matches to tackle homophobic discrimination in football. Note that Tottenham Hotspur Foundation recruited this year a dedicated LGBT+ Officer, a first in football.

Pro league

In February 2019 during one weekend, the Belgian Pro League organised the Rainbow Weekend against homophobia, racism and other forms of inequality under the slogan “Football for All”. The campaign showcased the Pro League along with it’s professional and amateur clubs, commitment to diversity and tolerance on and off the field. The captains of all Belgian Pro League teams wore armbands in rainbow colours, the corner flags in all of the two professional competitions, and in many amateur division teams, were also rainbow-coloured.

Here are just a couple of examples that show how to throw the menace of homophobia out of our society and support equality for all human beings. #Morethanfootball