Tory MP launches legal bid to ban homophobic chants at football games
A top Conservative MP will launch a legal bid to ban homophobic chanting at sports games.
Damian Collins will try to amend the Football Offences Act to make indecent chanting or gesturing with reference to sexual orientation or gender identity illegal.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair has teamed up with ex-Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas in his bid to crack down on abusive behaviour.
In a report last year, the committee said fans who display homophobic attitudes at matches should face “immediate, lengthy bans”, while sports authorities must adopt a “zero tolerance” approach.
According to research by the BBC, 50% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at football matches, while a Stonewall survey put the figure at 72%.
The committee heard examples of fans hurling abuse from the stands, sending it online through social media and even giving out homophobic leaflets at a game.
It also heard about the effects of homophobic “banter” among teams in locker rooms, and how it impacts on the mental health of those who keep their sexuality secret.
When the report was released, Mr Collins said: “More needs to be done by the authorities to address both the overt and latent homophobia that exists within sport.
“Homophobic abuse in sports grounds is just as intolerable as racist behaviour and should dealt with as severely.
“Clubs should also look to their own internal culture, and consider whether it would appear supportive to gay athletes.”
The BBC has documented football chants directed at Brighton and Hove Albion supporters including: "You're from a town full of gays and we hope you all die of Aids."
Mr Collins and Mr Thomas will launch a draft bill to amend the Football Offences Act at an event in parliament on Monday.