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Homophobia in Football

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2020

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on bringing forward legislative proposals to strengthen sentencing to tackle homophobia in football. (909922)

All hate crimes, including where motivated by homophobia, are unacceptable. The courts already have powers to treat hostility based on sexual orientation as a factor that aggravates the seriousness of an offence. However, hate crime laws in England and Wales are complex and are spread across different statutes. That is why the Government gave a commitment to carry out a comprehensive review of hate crime legislation. That review is currently under way.

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer and in particular for the review being done by the Law Commission at the moment, which is looking specifically at the incidence of homophobic abuse in sports grounds. As the Minister will know, the Football (Offences) Act 1991 defines “racialist” abuse—that is the word it uses, which shows how old the Act is—but not homophobic abuse. Clearly, there is no space for abuse of any kind in a sports environment. In particular, match day stewards and officials seem unclear of their powers in these situations.

I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he has done on this issue. It has been noted and appreciated. He is absolutely right; from memory, it is question 57 of the Law Commission’s review of this precise issue. I hope that that work progresses. The extraordinary thing about football is that so much of an advance has been seen in respect of racism, yet homophobia still seems to exist, although I have to say that there is much better work going on in the women’s game than the men’s. The men need to catch up.