Metro Weekly

New survey finds Scottish sports fans are “persistently” homophobic

LGBT advocates issue call for allies within the sports world to stand against homophobic abuse

Members of Scotland's National Football team celebrate their 5-1 win in the World Cup qualification game. - Photo: Scotland National Team, via Facebook.
Members of Scotland’s National Football team celebrate their 5-1 win in the World Cup qualification game. – Photo: Scotland National Team, via Facebook.

A new survey out of Scotland finds that a majority of Scottish sports fans have witnessed homophobic behavior in the last five years.

The study, by market research group ICM Unlimited, finds that soccer fans are much more used to seeing or hearing anti-LGBT behavior or language, with 82 percent saying they’ve witnessed such displays of homophobia, reports the Daily Record.

The research, commissioned by the LGBT organization Stonewall Scotland ahead of a campaign to promote LGBT inclusion in sports, classifies the level of homophobia as “persistent.” It also found that 68 percent of sports fans think more needs to be done to make LGBT people feel accepted within the sports world.

“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,” Colin Macfarlane, the director of Stonewall Scotland, said in a statement. “There is, however, a minority who still see this type of abusive behavior 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,” Macfarlane added. “We need all our clubs, coaches, PE teachers and sports personalities to take a stand as allies against this behavior, and help make sport everyone’s game. We can show that anti-LGBT abuse has no place in Scotland, and no place in sport.”

Other findings from the survey found that 15 percent of Scottish sport fans would be embarrassed if their favorite player came out as gay, just over half would be “proud,” and 79 percent would be happy to play alongside a bisexual teammate.

For the UK as a whole, there were higher levels of homophobic language or behavior reported by soccer fans, with three-quarters saying they’ve heard such abuse. However, two-thirds of respondents from around the nation said they thought an openly LGBT player would have a positive impact on sporting culture.

The survey showed younger people appeared to more publicly embrace anti-LGBT attitudes: 22 percent of UK respondents aged 18-24 said they’d be embarrassed if their favorite player was gay, compared to 12 percent of the general population. Youth were also more likely to say anti-LGBT language is harmless if it’s just meant as “banter,” with 22 percent agreeing with that statement, compared to 13 percent of the overall population.

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