Leeds United LGBTQ+ group reminds fans homophobia isn’t ‘banter’ after vile chants at Brighton game

Leeds United v Brighton

Leeds United has insisted “there is no room for homophobia in football” after homophobic chants were used by its fans on the terraces at a recent match. 

Marching Out Together – Leeds United’s LGBTQ+ supporters group – released a statement on Wednesday (15 March) to condemn the homophobia present in its Saturday 11 March match against Brighton. 

Chants were reportedly heard from some Leeds United fans in the South Stand, aimed at the Brighton team, after the teams drew two-all at Elland Road stadium.

The group claimed there were a “number of reports of blatantly homophobic chanting” during the game.

It also shared that it had a been contacted by a Brighton fan who had been abused on leaving the match.

“Once again, we have to remind everybody that this is not ‘banter’,” Marching Out Together wrote. 

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“It rests entirely on the assumption that there is something wrong or shameful about being gay; and it makes LGBT+ people nearby feel excluded, afraid, or even drives them from football.”

Marching Out Together added that the “not-banter” further oppresses the LGBTQ+ community by trivialising “discrimination and abuse of LGBT+ people”. 

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A Leeds United spokesperson told PinkNews: “The topic was raised at our Supporter Advisory Board meeting earlier this week and Marching Out Together are represented in the group.

“There is no room for homophobia in football and we will continue to work with our supporters to highlight the importance of inclusion.”

‘It has to stop’ 

“So one person’s ‘harmless joke’ at a match is part of a spectrum which ends up later with a gay couple being abused in a club, or someone being beaten up behind a bus-stop because they look ‘different’. It has to stop.

“We have a sense of humour too, and we are not killjoys trying to take the fun out of matchday: we are simply trying hard to educate and help fellow-fans understand that these chants don’t belong in our game or our grounds.” 

On the same day of the match (11 March), controversial right-wing television channel GB News fired an “alternative” Match of the Day broadcast that included casual homophobia and no actual football. It came after the BBC pulled football from its schedules after presenter Gary Linkeker criticised the government’s refugees

The GB News offering was compared to the nineties satirical programme The Day Today – which parodies television news and current affairs shows and features Steve Coogan as his iconic Alan Partridge character.

In a clip shared on Twitter, presenter Patrick Christys calls Lineker “a rabid lefty” and suggests he must “quite like Brighton because it’s full of rainbow flags and woke people”.

Social media users were quick to express their anger at the blatantly homophobic “joke”. 

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Call for action against homophobia in UK men’s football 

In January this year, international initiative, Football v Homophobia, called for action against homophobia in UK men’s football.

It follows several “damaging” homophobic incidents including the offensive chants of  “Chelsea rent boy” – classed as homophobic hate speech – being heard at UK matches at the start of the year, with the FA announcing it will fine fans who use it at future games. 

Further homophobic incidents led to two Southampton fans being banned from the club’s home stadium over homophobic chanting during a Boxing Day match against Brighton.

Manchester United has also promised to tackle homophobia after supporters aimed the “Chelsea rent boy” chant at Everton manager Frank Lampard, a former player at the West London club. 

Football v Homophobia’s call for action requests that football authorities and clubs “make tackling homophobia and wider LGBTIQ-phobia a priority, to prevent a spread of the abuse we have seen”.  

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