Lesson 5 Homophobia and Sport 3.2

Cultural Diversity
In & Through Sport
Lesson Five:
Homophobia and Sport
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication
[communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for
any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the session you should be able to:
• Describe the term homophobia
• Identify how homophobia is manifested using sporting examples
• Examine own attitudes towards homophobia
• Explain the consequences of prejudice and discrimination
• Identify ways in which attitudes can be challenged
• Heterosexual - A person who is attracted to a person of the
opposite gender within a binary gender system
• Heterosexism - The attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid or
acceptable sexual orientation
Definitions of Sexual Orientations
• Gay - A person who is attracted only to members of the same
gender. Although it can be used for any gender (e.g. gay man, gay
woman, gay person)
• Lesbian - A woman who is only attracted to other women
• Bisexual - A person who is attracted to both men and women
Task: Homosexual Stereotypes
• What is the stereotypical image of a gay man and gay woman?
• Are they true?
• Where did they come from?
• What is the stereotypical image of a sportsman and sportswoman ?
• Do you know many gay people?
• What sports would they play?
Task: Gay Sportspeople
Working in your groups
• Name as many gay sportsmen and
women as you can
• Identify the sport that they play
• Why do you think there not more
‘out’ gay sports people?
Gold Medallist, Matthew Mitcham,
was one of Australia’s first openly gay
athletes to compete in the Olympics
Inside Sport: BBC Documentary
• Inside Sport: A look at “sport’s last taboo”:
Click here.
Task: Define ‘Homophobia’
Working in groups, define homophobia.
• Try to give some real life example of homophobia (you don’t have
to use real people’s names)
Homophobia: Definition
• An irrational fear or intolerance of
homosexuality, or behaviour that is
perceived to uphold and support
traditional gender role expectations.
• People who are perceived to be gay
or lesbian, or who have gay or
lesbian friends, can also be the
targets of homophobic behaviour.
Homophobia: Legal Definition
• A definition of a homophobic incident used by the police and the
criminal justice system is ‘any action which is perceived by the
victim, or any other person as being motivated by homophobia.’
• A victim of homophobic crime does not necessarily have to be
lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) themselves, but
considered to be so by the offender.
Task: Group Questions
In groups discuss how is homophobia expressed:
• Try to give some real life example of homophobia (again, you don’t
have to use real people’s names)
Expressions of Homophobia
1. Verbal: aggressive abuse or verbal abuse in work or social situations:
– Using offensive language, name-calling, making fun of someone or
taunting them, telling homophobic jokes, or threatening them.
• Can you think of any real life examples?
Expressions of Homophobia
2. Physical: ranges from bullying to serious violence:
– Can manifest itself in gangs who go out with the express intention
of beating up gay people.
– At its most extreme, it can even result in murder.
• Can you think of any real life examples?
Expressions of Homophobia
3. Emotional: Openly treating someone differently because of their sexual
– Refusing to sit next to someone, work or talk with them and
organising others to do the same,
– putting them down, looking at them in a cold or threatening way,
harassing them, damaging their property
– sending hate mail, texts or emails, abusive phone calls and/or
posting internet threats or abusive material, or graffiti.
• Can you think of any real life examples?
Expressions of Homophobia
4. Institutional: when an organisation discriminates against lesbian
and gay people:
- Refusing to employ them or discriminating against them for
• Can you think of any real life examples?
Expressions of Homophobia
All these behaviours have things in common:
• They are bullying
• They are ignorant
• They are wrong
• They are not wanted
Task: Group Discussions
In groups discuss your experiences of homophobic behaviour:
• Have you ever seen or heard homophobia in action? If so, what
• Why do you think people are homophobic?
• If football is the UK’s national game, why are there no openly gay
footballers currently playing in the Premier League?
Sources of Homophobia
Homophobia in football:
• Anti-gay abuse is all too common on both terraces and pitches
• This abuse almost always goes unchallenged.
• Fans believe that it is this abuse, from fans, players and teammates
that deters homosexual people from playing football and creates a
culture of fear where gay players feel it is unsafe to come out.
• What do you think?
Sources of Homophobia
• Fans feel that the lack of any visible action by the Football
Association (FA), football clubs and their partners in tackling
homophobic abuse which has allowed it to fester on the terraces
and in changing rooms across Britain.
• Football fans are also adamant that they want this to change and
believe that football would be a far better sport if homophobic
abuse was eradicated.
• What do you think?
Sources of Homophobia
• Many young men and women go to great lengths to avoid association
with lesbians and gay men by monitoring their appearance,
mannerisms, and relationships with peers.
• In women's sports, the ‘lesbian label’ is often used to discourage
women from challenging inequities between men and women.
• If women fear being called lesbians, this can be an effective way to
intimidate women into accepting less than equal treatment.
• What do you think?
Combating Homophobia
• Prevention is always the best way to address name-calling or putdowns of any kind.
• Coaches should make it clear as part of team policies that namecalling of any kind by anyone is unacceptable.
• Coaches and parents can also set a powerful example by avoiding
name-calling or put-downs to motivate athletes.
Call for More Gays in Football
Sepp Blatter, FIFA President
• Urged gay footballers to come out and not be put off by football's
"macho" atmosphere in 2008. "There are gay footballers, but they
don't declare it because it will not be accepted in these macho
organisations. “
• When asked about the concerns of gay football fans after the 2022
World Cup was awarded to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, Blatter
advised gay fans to "refrain from any sexual activities" during the
The FA’s Position
It is as follows:
“…..to continue with working with key stakeholders who genuinely
represent the voice of the LGB community, to educate and raise
awareness through stewards and referee training, to engage with fans
through forums as part of the on-going debate, to promote widely how
to report abuse and discrimination and to look at innovative
approaches of promoting football equality.”
Wembley’s Code of Conduct
• The FA recognises that Wembley National Stadium should lead by
example and be an exemplar of good practice.
• Wembley will be implementing a Code of Conduct in respect of all
visitors to the Stadium.
• From a crowd safety aspect, homophobic chanting is taken very
seriously and would result in ejection from the Stadium and
criminal prosecution.
Anti-Homophobia Campaigns
Some national campaigns include:
• Kick it Out: www.kickitout.org
• International Day Against Homophobia
and Transphobia, 17th May:
Kick it Out Campaign
Kick it Out Campaign suggests:
• Respond to incidents of homophobic abuse
• Where possible, get support for yourself from other witnesses
• Challenge homophobic stereotypes
• Challenge homophobic language
• Report or remove graffiti
• Keep a record of what is happening
• Provide support to the target of the attack.
Government Charter (UK)
• As part of the drive to tackle homophobia in sport, sport bodies in
every part of the UK jointly signed up to the Government Equalities
Office (GEO) Charter on Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport.
• The aim of the charter is to make sport a welcoming environment
for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
• The charter outlines the importance of creating an environment
where everyone is able to participate and enjoy sport, whoever
they are and whatever their background.
• It also pushes the agenda of fairness, equality, respect and dignity.
Thought for the Day
• A provocative advertisement from the FA and Kick it Out:
Click here.