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Homophobia (Sport)

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 23 June 2011

We are encouraging every club, team, player and fan to sign up to our new charter, “Tackling Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport”, and to work with us to put an end to homophobia and transphobia in sport. We are working with the top sports national bodies, Sport England and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to tackle this issue. I am pleased to say that yesterday the Prime Minister hosted a reception in No. 10 to celebrate the good work that is under way to drive homophobia and transphobia out of sport.

Given our wish to get a lot of young people involved in sport, and with the Olympics happening next year, does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to break down homophobic attitudes among young people in particular and to ensure that young people can fully participate in sport? What will the Government do to facilitate that?

I agree with my hon. Friend that that is important. We want sport to be welcoming for everyone. Spectators and participants should feel that there is no barrier for them, and should not feel concerned about the sort of comments they might hear. It is important that young people are taught and shown the way forward. I think that our charter will help to do that.

We need to work on homophobia particularly in relation to football. Over time, football has not done enough to deal with this issue. Sadly, the terraces of football clubs are too often places where homophobic and transphobic comments are made. I am pleased to say that the Football Association was represented at the reception at No. 10 yesterday. Too often in the past there has been a reluctance among the football authorities to deal with this issue and frankly it is time that football got its house in order.

I wholeheartedly endorse what the Minister for Women and Equalities has said about football. It is a great sadness that there has been only one out gay footballer, and he ended up committing suicide partly because of the reaction. Has the Minister come across the charity Diversity Role Models? It plays an important role in taking gay and lesbian people from many walks of life into schools, so that young people can see that the homophobic bullying to which they might have been subjected is not the right way forward.

I am not aware of that organisation, but I am happy for the hon. Gentleman to send me details about it. It is important that we use every opportunity to ensure that young people get the right messages, and that they do not just stand on the terraces or participate in sport and get the wrong messages. One problem, as the hon. Gentleman said, is that only a few key sports people have come out across a number of sports.

Rugby has a better record than football. I hope that we can have a situation in which gay sports players feel that they can come out.

I welcome what the Minister said in relation to the Olympics and tackling homophobia. Have the Government thought about how the Olympics can be used to encourage participating countries to tackle homophobia in their home countries?

The Olympic games present an important opportunity for a clear message to be sent across the world. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has already produced a pin badge which, as well as the London 2012 logo, features a rainbow flag illustrating its commitment to tackling homophobia and transphobia in sport. It is considering what else it can do.

We should send that message from the Olympic games to other countries, but we should do more, and I am pleased to say that Ministers have agreed to raise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues with other Governments whenever possible during overseas visits. The Minister for Equalities, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), did just that during her recent trip to India and Nepal.