A Yorkshire MP is calling for a crackdown on homophobia in sport, as he warns too many people are still faced with a choice between pursuing a career in the industry and “being open about who they are”.
The Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew says he is “alarmed” by the level of discrimination among fans, with recent studies showing up to 8 per cent would not support a team where a player was gay.
He argues such attitudes present a serious problem for sports clubs, and highlight an “urgent” need for action “at all levels” of the industry.
“If we are to foster talent and support our athletes we need to take clear action to make sport more inclusive and route out homophobia,” he told the Yorkshire Post.
“The choice should not be about participating in sport and being open about who you are.
“This is not only a problem for players, whose mental health may suffer because of the abuse they endure, but for sport in general, whose athletes will not be performing at their peak.
“It is time we made a renewed call for action on tackling homophobia in sport... We must urgently look at why so many LGBT people are not playing sport... and how we can address it.”
The Conservative MP, who has been open about his own experiences of homophobic abuse, said he was initially motivated to campaign on the issue in sport by a BBC 5Live survey.
The poll, published earlier this year, found that 8 per cent of fans would stop watching their team if it signed a gay player.
A separate international report published last year revealed 85 per cent of people do not think an openly gay person would be safe as a spectator.
Mr Andrew claims the problem can only be resolved through “sustained” action “at all levels of sport” and will use a Westminster Hall debate tomorrow to press ministers and professional organisations to show greater leadership on the issue.