What you can do

Homophobic views still prevalent in sport

  • 60 per cent of Scottish sports fans have heard homophobic abuse

  • 68 per cent of fans say more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport

  • New research launched as part of Stonewall Scotland’s Rainbow Laces campaign to make sport everyone’s game

New ICM  research for Stonewall into homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes and experiences among sports fans shows that abuse is still regularly heard at sporting events in Scotland.

60 per cent of sports fans in Scotland have witnessed language or behaviour which was offensive to LGBT people in a sport setting in the last five years, compared to 51 per cent of sports fans in Britain as a whole.

Football fans are the most likely to hear homophobic abuse, with 82 per cent of Scottish fans who had witnessed anti-LGBT language or behaviour at a sporting event, saying that took place in relation to football.

The research also reveals that 15 per cent of Scottish sports fans would be embarrassed if their favourite player came out as gay.

However, despite this, the research highlights some encouraging trends. Nine in ten (91 per cent) people in Scotland would be ‘proud’ or ‘neutral’ if their favourite player came out as gay (52 per cent agree, 39 per cent neutral).

The research shows that the majority of people identify anti-LGBT language and behaviour as a problem.  64 per cent of fans in Scotland think that such behaviour is a problem in sport.

Furthermore, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of fans in Scotland say more should be done to make LGBT people feel accepted in sport. Almost three in five (58 per cent) Scottish sports fans say they wish more sports players were open about their sexual orientation.

Other findings show that 79 per cent of Scottish sports fans would be happy to play alongside a bisexual teammate and 71 per cent with a transgender teammate.

The ICM research has been commissioned by Stonewall, the leading lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) equality charity, as part of its Rainbow Laces campaign.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland said: ‘The majority of Scottish sport fans see anti-LGBT chants and abuse as a problem, and want sport to be a welcoming environment for everyone. There is however, a minority who still see this type of abusive behaviour as acceptable on our terraces, in the pub, or on social media.’

‘This minority of fans may think that anti-LGBT language is ‘harmless’ banter, but such insults and abuse makes LGBT fans and players feel unsafe, unwelcome and unable to be themselves.’

‘We need all our clubs, coaches, PE teachers and sports personalities to take a stand as allies against this behaviour, and help make sport everyone’s game. We can show that anti-LGBT abuse has no place in Scotland, and no place in sport.’

Stonewall Scotland has developed a range of measures to tackle the problems raised in the research, including a sports toolkit for grassroots and community sport to build awareness and understanding of the issues affecting LGBT people, and how they can help ensure all sports offer an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.

Schools and clubs across Scotland have also signed up to join in with a week of action to show that everyone can play a part in making sport everyone’s game. Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces movement aims to show that everyone can participate and enjoy sport, whoever they are and whatever their background.

The Rainbow Laces campaign is supported by TeamPride, a group of global organisations committed to making sport everyone’s game. Stonewall and TeamPride will be rolling out a campaign weekend of activity on November 26 and 27 to promote equality for LGBT people in sport. 

ICM Unlimited


ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 1,249 sports fans across Britain, including 125 from Scotland. Fieldwork was conducted online between the 3- 5 August 2016. Sports fans were defined as anyone who attends/watches a live sports event or watches the highlights of a sports events at least once a month. ICM employed IAT (implicit attitude testing) analysis to develop a deeper understanding of people’s subconscious attitudes towards LGBT people in sport.


TeamPride is a coalition of global organisations providing support for Stonewall and its Rainbow Laces campaign and includes Aon, Aviva and Adidas.

Further findings from across Britain

  • 72 per cent of football fans have heard homophobic abuse
  • One in five 18 to 24-year-olds say they’d be embarrassed if their favourite player came out
  • Young people are twice as likely to say anti-LGBT language is harmless if it’s just meant as 'banter' (22 per cent compared to 13 per cent overall).
  • Almost two thirds of young people (60 per cent) say that open LGBT players would have a positive impact on the culture of sport
  • 63 per cent of young people say they wish more sports players were open about their sexual orientation (compared to 55 per cent of people overall).