Two football supporters have become the first fans to be convicted of chanting homophobic abuse.
James Monkhouse and Michael Church, followers of Norwich City, were found guilty by Norwich Magistrates’ Court of disorderly behaviour after reportedly shouting anti-gay chants aimed at Brighton football club fans earlier this year.
The defendants were filmed chanting the word “queer” from the stands, the court was told, and were later escorted out of the stadium by football intelligence officer PC Chris Watts, to the applause of Brighton fans.
PC Watts told the court, “It was clear that the applause was coming from Brighton fans regarding the actions of the police. I know that historically Brighton Town have been subject to these kinds of taunts before. We had a duty to act on what we had seen.
“There were no further homophobic incidents throughout the rest of the game so perhaps it had a preventative effect.”
Both men denied the charges and insisted thy are not homophobic, Monkhouse, 28, told the court, “I didn’t think the word queer was derogatory. Most football banter is having a bit of fun and a bit of a laugh. It was meant to be a comic reply to what was said to us.
“I was amazed to be pulled out.”
Monkhouse, and Church, 24, were given a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £200 prosecution costs.
However they were not banned from any further games after the judge took the men’s previously clean record into account.
Earlier this year the Football Association outlined its opposition to homophobia in the game, the FA’s director of corporate affairs, Simon Johnson, told PinkNews.co.uk: “The FA is leading the way on tackling homophobia in football and our work is becoming recognised across Europe. We underline our opposition to homophobia in our football for all strategy along with race and disability discrimination. Abuse of any such nature can now be tackled by the FA via sanctions and potential bans.”