LGBTQ+ Nottingham Forest fans feel ‘unwelcome’ after homophobic chanting during Chelsea match

Nottingham Forest fans at the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Chelsea FC on 1 January 2023

LGBTQ+ Nottingham Forest fans say they feel “unwelcome” in their own club after allegations of homophobic chants against Chelsea were made at a game on Sunday (1 January).

The infamous “Chelsea Rent Boy” chant, which has been classed as a homophobic hate crime, was reportedly heard at the City Ground football stadium in Nottingham as Forest drew 1-1 with Chelsea. 

Nottingham Forest is now investigating the reports of homophobic chanting at the match. “The club are aware of reports concerning chants aimed at Chelsea supporters from a minority of fans this evening and do not condone any type of discriminatory of offensive behaviour,” Nottingham Forest said in a statement.

Nottingham Forest’s queer fan club, LGBTQ+ Trickies, wrote on Twitter: “We’re tired of trying to explain to the uneducated why the chant is wrong on all levels, we’re not tired of fighting for equality and inclusion.

“We have a problem and an issue when our own fans think this type of chant is acceptable, and it makes us question how welcome we actually are at our own club.”

The fan group added: “Today has shown that if nothing else, some of the fans have helped call this behaviour out as unacceptable.”

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Chelsea’s LGBTQ+ fan group, Chelsea Pride, said on Twitter that it “totally condemns the Chelsea Rent Boy chant”.

“Time to call this out… this is now classed as a hate crime,” the group added.

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) described the homophobic chant as a “disease”, not “harmless banter” as it moved to class it a hate crime in January 2022.

“Hate crime has no place within society, let alone sport,” CPS director of public prosecutions Max Hill told The Mirror at the time.

“Recently, we have seen an increase in reports of racist and homophobic abuse at football matches and this is a disease we are determined to play our part in cutting out.”

The chant is thought to have first been used in the 1980s, based on an “urban myth” about the leader of a Chelsea fan group being found in bed with a man, who tabloids alleged was a sex worker.

Tracy Brown, co-chair of Chelsea Pride, told PinkNews when the CPS’ decision was made: “When it comes down to it, we all know the LGBT+ community has felt with a heavy-heart that [the chant] is homophobic in nature.

“While we know this is only the beginning of the journey, it is a very important step in communicating that the derogatory term ‘rent boy’ is not welcome in football.

“We want to see homophobia, biphobia and transphobia kicked out of football.

“We still have a long way to go to make football a game for everyone, but together as a community, we can achieve amazing things.”