Brighton and Hove Albion football club is launching a campaign against homophobia as a result of an increase in anti-gay chants at matches.
The club, nicknamed The Seagulls, says that it is receiving more and more complaints about the verbal abuse, which is aimed at fans due to Brighton’s reputation as a ‘gay city’.
The club is now responding to the problem by launching it’s own awareness campaign via an article in a match programme. Entitled ‘Homophobia – Time for Action’, the article includes a statement of commitment to Football Association (FA) efforts to combat homophobia.
An extract from a recent match day programme reads: “We fully support the Football Association’s initiative on homophobia, which aims to promote a tolerant footballing society and to make the spectator experience as exciting and all-embracing as possible.”
Martin Perry, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Albion was a keen participant in the FA’s ‘Moving Football Forward’ convention earlier this year.
“Homophobic chanting is a form of discrimination in the same way that racist chanting or any kind of comment about disability is also discriminatory,” he said. “The chants are obscene and when you’ve got young children and women, then it’s not acceptable and we need to deal with it.”
Sussex Police Football Liaison Officer PC Darren Balkham said, “We should get the same kind of level of self policing around the subject of homophobia that we have achieved for racism.
“This is not to say that banter should be taken out of the game, but people need to be responsible for their actions and think of others.”
“The kick racism out of football has worked well, lets see if we can change that word racism to discrimination and apply the same standards.”
Last month, James Monkhouse and Michael Church, Norwich City fans, 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.
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.”
Other football clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Coventry City have also previously stated their commitment to the FA’s efforts to tackle homophobia in football.