Ben Bold
Oct 30, 2022

Stonewall tackles homophobia in sports ahead of Qatar World Cup

Qatar is notorious for its bad human rights record and persecution of LGBT+ people.

Stonewall tackles homophobia in sports ahead of Qatar World Cup

Stonewall has teamed up with Lucky Generals to remind people that while its nine-year "Rainbow laces" campaign has helped significantly reduce homophobia in sport, "we haven't won yet".

Timed to coincide with the build-up to the World Cup in Qatar – a host country renowned for its human rights abuses, homophobia and transphobia – "Lace up to keep it up" adapts footballing idioms to send the message that persecution needs to end.

Slogans appearing across Stonewall's social platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, include "Let's boot the homophobes off the park", "Let's give homophobia a career-ending tackle" and "Let's send homophobia for an early bath".

According to research carried out by Stonewall and ICM/Walnut, the number of fans who find homophobia in sport acceptable has nearly halved in five years, from 25% in 2017 to 14% in 2022. It also found that 40% of sports fans think sport is welcoming to gay and bi men, while 43% think the same about lesbian and bi women and only 29% think likewise about trans people.

It was 31 years ago that Justin Fashanu came out as the first gay professional footballer, and yet Stonewall and Lucky Generals point out that Blackpool's Jake Daniels is "the only player comfortable enough to come out in the current game".

Stonewall and Lucky Generals launched the Paddy Power-backed campaign in 2013, asking footballers to wear rainbow coloured laces to show their support for gay players.

Robbie de Santos, Stonewall's director of communications and external affairs, said: "We've made incredible strides with the Stonewall 'Rainbow laces' in the UK since Paddy Power and Lucky Generals created the campaign in 2013.

"With the eyes of the world turning to the Men's Football World Cup in Qatar and hate crime against LGBTQ+ people in the UK rising at a rapid pace, the time is right to remind people that while we've made amazing progress, we can't be complacent. We still need to lace up again and show our support. Going back to Lucky Generals, where it all started, was the perfect way to get this message out."

Chloe Davies, Lucky Generals' head of social impact, added: "Rainbow Laces was a game-changer, not only for Stonewall but to the many LGBTQI+ folk around the globe this initiative has helped to feel safe, seen and supported within sports. It's brilliant to be able to pick up the mantle, refresh the messaging and continue the great work started so many years ago."


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