The Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Transexuales y Bisexuales (Felgtb) and Confederación de asociaciones de lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y transexuales (Colegas) have both called on the current government to include homophobic hatred as punishable in the same law that counters violence and intolerance in sport.
In 2007, a new law against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance was passed by the Spanish parliament, Cortes Generales, to prevent and sanction improper behaviour in sport. Nevertheless, the two LGBT networks argue that homophobic abuse is not included.
“In Spain, homosexuality is still a taboo in the locker rooms. We haven’t had a single athlete that has felt comfortable enough to come out”, said Felgtb in a press release.
Homophobia is a “form of discrimination that is still very common in Spanish football stadiums”, said Colegas.
The call was made in the frame of the action day against LGBT discrimination in football (19 February) and it also stressed the role and responsibility of clubs and federations in campaigning and supporting their athletes in the process of coming out. Both organisations highlighted Athletic de Bilbao anti-homophobia campaign in 2011 as good practice.
Basque Country takes the lead
In March 2013, the spokesman of the Spanish coalition left-wing party Izquierda Plural, Ricardo Sixto, suggested the elaboration of a guide, similar to the one adopted by the German Football Association (DFB), to raise awareness of homophobic hatred and help clubs tackle homophobia.
At the time, the politician also stressed the importance of football bodies, including the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) and the Spanish football league, in being involved in the “promotion of the values of tolerance and respect, in challenging homophobia in football and in elaborating the document”. However, the suggestion was never materialised.
Seven months later, in October 2013, the Basque Country Football Federation passed a law that included sanctions of up to one year of suspension for homophobic abuse, however it is only applicable within the autonomous community’s football.
On the new law the Felgtb said:
“We must continue to make progress. It is lamentable to see that no one has the courage to do something regarding homophobia in Spanish football. It is sad to see that two out of three supporters still shout homophobic slurs in our stadiums”.