It is four years since the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) published their report on the regular homophobic abuse suffered by Brighton and Hove Albion football fans.
Four years on the problem still remains. Brighton fans took to social media on Saturday to report the homophobic abuse levelled at them by a minority of Leicester supporters.
On a positive note the incident was dealt with well by the Leicester stewards who have been trained in identifying homophobic abuse and by the police who have confirmed that the group were ejected, with one accepting a conditional caution, while another has been charged with the offence of indecent chanting.
A spokesperson for GFSN, said: “This incident serves only to remind us that we must continue to work hard in order to create the environment where people, whether they be players or fans, can participate in football without fear of suffering abuse.”
We applaud the football fan groups such as Foxes Pride who work with clubs to make stadiums more welcoming for LGBT+ fans. We encourage everyone to help us eliminate this problem from the game. Any fans hearing or seeing such abuse should challenge those offending (if safe to do so) or report it to stewards or to Kick It Out through their reporting app.
The clubs and the governing bodies must do their part in continuing to drive home the message to fans that such behaviour is unacceptable and that those who offend will face ejection and prosecution.”
Established in 1989, GFSN is a social network for LGBT+ football fans across the country. Since then it has expanded into hosting its own national league and aims to take the lead in tackling homophobia in football.
They divide their work into the elements – Supporting, Playing and Campaigning.
Supporting: They help LGBT+ fans across the UK to meet up and socialise with others interested in the beautiful game. This includes social events centred around going to all types of matches and watching the national teams.
Playing: The GFSN league is the world’s only national league aimed at the LGBT+ communities and is open to everyone, regardless of age, races, nationality, religion, gender or sexuality. It currently hosts teams from across the UK including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Nottingham, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Bristol, Wolverhampton, Liverpool, Trowbridge, and Leicester with more teams joining every season. They also have affiliated teams from the Republic of Ireland.
Campaigning: The GFSN works very closely with partner organisations including The FA and Kick It Out to encourage a safe and positive environment in which LGBT+ people can watch and play football and worked as part of the diversity advisory group for the 2018 England World Cup bid.