Stonewall calls on players and fans to stand up for LGBTQ+ rights at World Cup

The charity’s annual Rainbow Laces campaign runs until the end of October
Stonewall calls on players and fans to stand up for LGBTQ+ rights at World Cup

Andy Hampson, PA

Stonewall is urging the global sporting community to “stand up and call out the criminalisation and persecution” of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar at the upcoming World Cup.

The leading LGBTQ+ charity has made the plea at the launch of its ninth annual ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign.

Same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar and Stonewall hopes issues can be highlighted while the spotlight is on the Gulf state for the World Cup, which begins next month.

Rainbow laces
Sports stars are invited to wear rainbow laces to promote the campaign for greater inclusion (Nick Potts/PA)

Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall, said: “As we approach the 2022 Men’s World Cup, we must remember that Qatar is a country where LGBTQ+ people are persecuted simply for being themselves. Sadly, this year’s tournament is not safe for everyone, which is why it’s so important to see players and fans stand up to be counted.

“The World Cup is a vital moment for the global sporting community to stand up and call out the criminalisation and persecution of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar.”

This year’s Rainbow Laces ‘season’ runs from October 19th-31st with a Rainbow Laces Day, when sports participants are urged to wear rainbow laces in their footwear to promote greater inclusion, on October 26th.

Stonewall feels the campaign has led to good progress in recent years but believes much more still needs to be done.

One of the successes is highlighted in new statistics which show that the proportion of sport fans who think homophobic remarks in sport are acceptable has fallen from 25 per cent in 2017 to 14 per cent in 2022.

However, the research conducted by Stonewall in partnership with ICM/Walnut also suggests that fans are not confident that competitive sport is a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ sport personalities.

Just 40 per cent think it is welcoming for gay and bi men, 43 per cent think it welcoming for lesbian and bi women and just 29 per cent think it welcoming for trans sport personalities.

Ms Ward added: “Since the beginning of the Rainbow Laces campaign, we’ve seen awareness grow and grow, with more than one million laces modelled in boots across the world’s pitches and, as a result, we’ve seen attitudes fundamentally shift – the majority of Britons are now supportive of LGBTQ+ athletes.

“However, we cannot become complacent. This new research shows that the public recognise that there is more work to do to create a world where LGBTQ+ people are free to be themselves both on and off the pitch.”

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