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Nearly half of LGBTQ+ adults in the UK feel uncomfortable attending live sporting events

Research found those who attended sporting events in person experienced homophobia and transphobia, leading them to feel unwelcome

Mustafa Mirreh
Friday 21 April 2023 21:53 BST
After being confronted, three quarters said the abuser tried to justify their comments as ‘banter’
After being confronted, three quarters said the abuser tried to justify their comments as ‘banter’ (Jon Super for London Marathon Events)

A study of 1,000 people from the LGBTQ+ community found 34 per cent of those who have attended a live sports event experienced homophobic or transphobic abuse while sitting in the stands – an average of four times.

While four in 10 felt unwelcome due to their gender or sexuality.

More than half (53 per cent) of those who experienced problems at a sporting event were watching men’s football, with 23 per cent at women’s football.

Cricket, swimming, and tennis were also key events where LGBTQ+ adults have experienced homophobic or transphobic abuse.

The research comes ahead of the TCS London Marathon on Sunday, where official automotive partner, Nissan UK, is creating its inclusive Cheer Zone for the LGBTQ+ community, providing a lively atmosphere for spectators at the “Rainbow Row” section of the course.

Adele Roberts, one of Nissan UK’s diversity, equity and inclusion ambassadors, said: “Everyone should be comfortable to play sport or attend any sporting event, whatever their gender or sexuality.

"The fact that nearly half of LGBTQ+ fans feel uncomfortable watching live sport in person shows why the Cheer Zone is so important.

“It was an honour to be a part of Rainbow Row at last year’s marathon, helping to create an inclusive safe space for the LGBTQ+ community – and our allies, family and friends - and this year I’m looking forward to running as a proud member of the community.”

It also emerged it’s not just when watching a sport though, as 38 per cent of those who have taken part in a team game have encountered abuse from their own side because of their sexuality.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of those confronted them personally, but 32 per cent stayed quiet.

After being confronted, three quarters said the abuser tried to justify their comments as ‘banter’.

More than half (54 per cent) have also witnessed someone directing homophobic or transphobic abuse at another person – with this occurring most in football, rugby, basketball and Formula 1.

And while 49 per cent said the abuse was directed at those watching the sport, 23 per cent saw the players targeted.

Although 27 per cent saw both groups abused.

The research, carried out via OnePoll, also revealed 45 per cent of all LGBTQ+ adults polled claimed homophobic or transphobic ‘banter’ has always been part of sporting culture.

And 85 per cent feel sport still needs to be improved to be inclusive to everyone, with 44 per cent believing it is less progressive and accepting than society as a whole.

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