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Scottish Football Should Be Pushing For More LGBT Equality

Date: 19th July 2019

Copyright – Partick Thistle

 

I know there’s a lot going on at Firhill at the moment but I don’t want to focus on the current boardroom issues. Partly because I’ve no idea what’s really going but mainly because I wanted to praise the former Partick Thistle board for approving the club’s new away strip which possesses the LGBT rainbow down the sides.

Firstly I should state that the Joma kit is aesthetically pleasing. I really like the look of it but importantly the message is key.

Jags Chief Executive Gerry Britton stated this to The BBC when the new strip was released:

“We wanted to make a statement about inclusivity and that’s what inspired the rainbow feature on the away shirt.

“Partick Thistle is one club open to all, we will not accept discrimination in any form and I sincerely hope that this shows that. Football can be such a wonderful universal language that can help bridge all sorts of divides, both large and small.

“As a club, if we can use this sport that we all love to make all of our supporters feel welcome, even if that is through something as simple as a band of colour on a shirt, then it’s a simple decision.”

Gerry is spot on, sport can help show our society that discrimination is not needed if we want to flourish.

Now it’s not the first time Partick Thistle have made big strides in showing how inclusive they are. The Championship club also helped some of its supporters to launch ‘Proud Jags‘ who are a group that want to welcome LGBT fans and welcome them to Firhill. Other clubs like Celtic and Rangers have also take the opportunity to help similar fan organisations in their own fanbases.

The reaction to the new rainbow inspired away kit has been somewhat mixed.

While footballing stars like former World Cup winner Hope Solo have been pictured embracing the top, we’ve also unfortunately had bigoted trolls state homophionic tripe about the club’s decision to release such a kit.

In fact former Scotland and Celtic striker Frank McAvennie stated in his column in The Sun that he thought it was a ‘needless own goal‘ and the message could put parents off buying the kit.

Frank kind of thought that dad’s would steer clear of it because their kids might get slagged off. I was brought up in the Glasgow schooling system and it can be tough but if I’m being honest the kids will be slagged more for being Partick Thistle fans than the rainbow stripe on their kit.

If children pick up on the meaning of the rainbow colours and slag off the wearer of the strip then that’s because they’ve learned about it from their parents. We have to be more understanding and tolerant as a society. McAvennie thinks a dad is being ‘considerate’ by refusing to buy that top for his child as it will prevent mocking but that’s a terrible example to teach our kids and it alienates a part of our society that have done nothing wrong.

Instead of ignoring issues and hiding away from them, we should be educating our kids to be compassionate, tolerant and to think about others.

Football needs to do more in driving this conversation and help give the LGBT community more of a voice.

By the way, I’m not asking for a player to come out.

Do I believe there’s gay footballers? 100% and it would be great to give youngsters a role model that they can relate to but it should be their choice when and if they declare their sexuality. The fact no one at high level of Scottish football has chosen to do so tells me that they aren’t comfortable in doing that. Given the backlash by certain supporters during Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces week and that of the Jags new away strip, I don’t blame them.

That’s why more football clubs should follow Partick Thistle’s example and show that they’re all about inclusivity and do more than just a one week campaign to show that the LGBT community that they truly are welcome.

If we can do that then maybe we can finally take a bigger step towards having a society that is less homophobic and more welcoming.

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