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Half of sports fans in Wales have witnessed homophobic abuse

  • Homophobic views still prevalent in sport, new Stonewall research reveals

  • Nine in ten who have witnessed abuse say that it took place in relation to football

  • Seven in ten fans wish more sports players were openly gay

  • New research launched as part of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign to make sport everyone’s game 

New ICM research for Stonewall into homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes and experiences among sports fans shows that abuse is still regularly heard at live sporting events.

Half (50 per cent) of sports fans in Wales have witnessed language or behaviour which was offensive to lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people in a sport setting in the last five years. Most instances of anti-LGBT language and behaviour are happening in the context of football. Nine in ten (91 per cent) Welsh fans who had witnessed anti-LGBT language or behaviour at a sporting event said that took place in relation to football.

The research also reveals that across Great Britain, 18- to 24-year-olds are almost twice as likely to say they would be embarrassed if their favourite player came out as gay (22 per cent compared to 12 per cent overall).  This age group is also almost twice as likely to agree that anti-LGBT language is harmless if it’s just meant as banter (22 per cent compared to 13 per cent overall).

However, despite this, the research highlights some encouraging trends. Across the general population, nine in ten (88 per cent) people surveyed in Wales would be either ‘proud’ or ‘neutral’ if their favourite player came out as gay (56 per cent proud, 32 per cent neutral).

The research also shows that the majority (68 per cent) of people in Wales think that offensive language towards lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people in sport is a problem (59 per cent across Britain as a whole).

Furthermore, seven in ten (72 per cent) people in Wales say more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport. Two thirds (67 per cent) say that openly LGBT players would have a positive impact on the culture of sport, and seven in ten (72 per cent) say they wish more sports players were openly gay.

Other findings show that 81 per cent of sports fans in Wales would be happy to play alongside a bisexual teammate and 73 per cent with a transgender teammate.

The ICM research has been commissioned by Stonewall, the leading lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) equality charity, as part of its Rainbow Laces campaign.

Andrew White, Stonewall Cymru Director, said: ‘In such an amazing year for Welsh football it’s particularly disappointing that so many fans have heard homophobic abuse at matches.

Most fans want their sport to be welcoming of LGBT players and fans, but there is a persistent and vocal minority who believe this sort of abuse is acceptable.  To dismiss it as ‘banter’ ignores the real harm it causes: making lesbian, gay, bi and trans fans and players feel unsafe, unwelcome and unable to be themselves.

We need high profile sports clubs and personalities to stand up as allies and help make sport everyone’s game by showing that homophobic abuse has no place in sport.’

Stonewall has developed a sports toolkit for grassroots and community sport to build awareness and understanding of the issues affecting LGBT people, and how they can help ensure all sports offer an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.

Schools and clubs have also signed up to join in with a week of action to show that everyone can play a part in making sport everyone’s game. Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces movement aims to show that everyone can participate and enjoy sport, whoever they are and whatever their background.

The Rainbow Laces campaign is supported by TeamPride, a group of global organisations committed to making sport everyone’s game. Stonewall and TeamPride will be rolling out a campaign weekend of activity on November 26 and 27 to promote equality for LGBT people in sport.



Enquiries: Mabli Jones, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager on 02920 237 744 or e-mail mabli.jones@stonewall.cymru


Notes to editors:


ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 1,249 sports fans across Britain, including 119 respondents from Wales. Fieldwork was conducted online between the 3- 5 August 2016. Sports fans were defined as anyone who attends/watches a live sports event or watches the highlights of a sports events at least once a month. ICM employed IAT (implicit attitude testing) analysis to develop a deeper understanding of people’s subconscious attitudes towards LGBT people in sport.

Stonewall Cymru is Wales’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, working to create a world where every single person can be accepted without exception. 


Stonewall works in partnership with a growing network of more than 700 organisations to help create real change for the better.  It campaigns to eliminate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in communities, and empowers LGBT people and their allies to be role models wherever they live, work, shop, socialise or pray.

To get involved visit us at www.stonewall.cymru   Registered charity number 1101255