Top clubs’ LGBT cam­paign leads to flood of ho­mo­pho­bic mes­sages

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Molly Moss

Premier League foot­ball teams, in­clud­ing Manch­ester United, Arse­nal and Chelsea, have re­ceived thou­sands of ho­mo­pho­bic re­sponses on so­cial me­dia for show­ing sol­i­dar­ity with Stonewall’s pro-LGBT Rain­bow Laces cam­paign.

The clubs have spent the past two weeks post­ing pic­tures on so­cial me­dia of rain­bow-striped lo­gos and mes­sages to mark the cam­paign, launched by Stonewall in 2013 to kick out ho­mo­pho­bia in foot­ball. But Face­book posts by Man Utd, Arse­nal and Chelsea were each met with tens of thou­sands of “an­gry” re­ac­tions. A post on Man Utd’s Face­book page in sup­port of the cam­paign has had more than 43,000 “an­gry” re­ac­tions.

The gay rights cam­paigner Peter Tatchell said the re­ac­tions were “shock­ing” and “a wake-up call to the FA and in­di­vid­ual clubs”. “Not enough is be­ing done to chal­lenge ho­mo­pho­bia in foot­ball,” he said.

An Arse­nal spokesper­son said the club’s poli­cies made it clear that “dis­crim­i­na­tory be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated”.

Af­ter Man Utd showed its sol­i­dar­ity with the Rain­bow Laces cam­paign, one Face­book user com­mented: “Say no to LGBT.” The mes­sage has been “liked” more than 10,000 times. Other com­ments in­clud­ing “God cre­ated Adam and Eve not Adam and Lukaku!” and “Gay­chester United” each re­ceived more 10,000 “likes”.

Sim­i­lar mes­sages were left on Chelsea’s and Arse­nal’s Face­book pages af­ter they added rain­bow-coloured lo­gos and mes­sages in sup­port of the cam­paign.

Tatchell said: “I sus­pect that these big­oted com­ments are com­ing from a hard­core mi­nor­ity and do not re­flect the views of most fans.”

Kirsty Clarke, Stonewall’s di­rec­tor of sport, said: “It’s great to see so many sports as­so­ci­a­tions across the UK proudly cham­pi­oning LGBT equal­ity as part of our Rain­bow Laces cam­paign. The back­lash from a small mi­nor­ity on­line is a re­minder of just how vi­tal it is for all of us to do our bit to help make sport ev­ery­one’s game. This year’s cam­paign is about giv­ing peo­ple con­fi­dence to be ac­tive al­lies and show their vis­i­ble sup­port for LGBT peo­ple, ei­ther on or off the pitch.”

Premier League clubs are back­ing the Rain­bow Laces cam­paign

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