Gareth Thomas pleads with Boris Johnson to tackle ‘black hole in the law’ around homophobic football abuse

Gareth Thomas

Former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas has directly pleaded with prime minister Boris Johnson to address the “black hole in the law” around homophobia in sport,

The rugby star came out as gay in 2009 and in September, 2019, he revealed that he is HIV-positive. 

Thomas has been vocal about the issue of homophobia in sport, and has been lobbying since 2018 to have the Football Offences Act 1991 updated to include homophobic abuse.

Speaking on the ‘Don’t Tell Me the Score’ podcast on BBC Sounds, he said that while the acknowledgment of discrimination in sport has improved, there is not much being done about it.

He said: “What happens in sport, I believe, in football definitely, is everyone in football is very good at reacting to situations.

“So we will have an act of racism, it hits the headlines, everyone comes out reacting in the right way.

“Another two or three months later another racist act or homophobic act or transphobic act will occur and everyone will react in the right way – but when you look at it seven months down the line, nothing has happened because everyone has reacted enough.”

Gareth Thomas called on government and football stakeholders to be “proactive” about homophobic abuse.

Thomas said there was “a blatantly obvious black hole in the law within football” and called on Johnson and his government to address the issue.

He said: “If you are running a country then you run the country to support everyone and to make better conditions for people to live in.

“Yes I am passionate about the LGBT issue, but I am just as passionate about the racism issue – it is in there, it is so simple, so just make the change. Do it Boris, do it.”

He also took aim at football associations and other stakeholders, adding: “How can you have all of these organisations who run a multi-billions-pound game not realise that within a Football Offences Act, times have changed and maybe they should be amended?

“I am now the one who will have to go back to parliament, go back to Damian Collins [chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee] to change something and what the FA will do is applaud me and say: ‘Well done Gareth, now it’s changed, we totally support you’.

“I do mind when they just react to situations and not sit down and think about being proactive about it.”

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