Football Association accepts gay rights charter

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Football Association and other sports bodies have signed a government charter for gay rights.

The charter calls on sports to stamp out homophobia and transphobia and ensure everyone is welcome.

Other signatories include the Lawn Tennis Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Rugby Football League, the Rugby Football Union and the Olympics organising committee.

Alex Horne, general secretary of the FA, said: “The FA and its stakeholders have worked hard over the years in providing football for all and ensuring that football stadia are open to everyone and are both family and LGB and T friendly.

“We’ve seen real progress over the last 20 years when it comes to tackling racism and that’s something football should be proud of. We remain committed to our long-term goal of removing all forms of discrimination, such as homophobia, out of the game.”

Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone urged other sports groups and individuals to sign the charter.

She said: “Sport should be about what you can do, not who you are. But too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel that the sports field is not somewhere they can be themselves, and that prejudice and discrimination will mean their sexuality is always talked about more than their ability with a ball, bat or racket.

“Homophobia and transphobia has no place in sport and I’m delighted that so many sporting bodies are backing our campaign to stamp it out at all levels, from local parks to Olympic stadiums.”

This month, Swedish footballer Anton Hysen, the son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, announced he is gay.

The UK has had just one openly gay top-level footballer. Justin Fashanu, who killed himself in 1998, suffered taunts and bullying over his sexuality.

Last year, the FA cancelled the premiere of an anti-homophobia video it had produced. Officials said they had more to do on the film, although they said it would be shown to match stewards as a training and education tool.

Other sports are better represented. England cricketer Steven Davies and Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas are openly gay.