Brighton fans have called on the football authorities to increase efforts to combat homophobic abuse after a report showed it was prevalent in 72% of the club's games so far this season.
The Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters' Club (BHASC), in conjunction with the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN), has recorded all instances of homophobia at matches this season to demonstrate the extent of the problem. Its findings, which include allegations of chanting, gestures by players and threats made to supporters leaving a game, show Brighton fans have suffered homophobic abuse from 72% of opponents this season, in 70% of away games and in 57% of all matches. Copies of the report were sent to the Football Association, the Football League and the Football Supporters Federation on Tuesday.
"Brighton fans have been the subject of 'banter' about the city's gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember," said Sarah Watts, secretary of BHASC. "It wouldn't be described as 'banter' if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it.
"Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters' Club has spent over 15 years trying to get the authorities to take this regular abuse of one club's fans seriously. We hope that this report will increase public awareness and help educate our fellow members of the football family of the issues faced, to address them and, ultimately the need to treat each other with basic respect."
The BHASC report, which details responses from the opposition clubs involved, states: "Some of the chants are fairly mild ("does your boyfriend know you are here") and some more unpleasant ("you're just a town full of faggots"). Some are meant as a "joke", some are meant as terms of abuse. It is the view of the BHASC and GFSN that neither is acceptable. For us it is really simple, if the words relating to a person's sexuality were replaced with words relating to someone's race or skin colour, would those chants be acceptable? In all these cases they would not and appropriate action would be taken."
Chris Basiurski, the chair of GFSN, added: "Nobody should be subject to ridicule over their actual or perceived sexual orientation and we are horrified that it has been tolerated, excused and ignored in relation to Brighton supporters for so long. It needs to stop."
The FA is working with the Football League, Kick It Out and the League Football Education, among others, on a 'Professional Game Equality Workshop' for the start of the 2013-14 season that will be rolled out to professional clubs over the next three years.
A spokesman for the FA said: "We're aware of the report as the Gay Football Supporters Network are an organisation that has worked alongside the FA on tackling homophobia in football for a number of years. We continue to work with Brighton & Hove Albion, the supporters' club and the Football League to review when incidents are occurring and reinforcing the action that the relevant home clubs should take.
"This has included better briefing to stewards, establishing an agreed and robust police response if required and working with the home club on educational messages to be used before matches. The FA is totally committed to supporting Football v Homophobia, ensuring the game is inclusive and combating discrimination of all types."
Link to the BHASC/GFSN report: