Scotland’s top football clubs have united in a pledge to better include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the game.
Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen and Partick Thistle are among 13 clubs that have signed up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter.
The charter’s five principles aim to remove barriers LGBT people may face when getting involved in sport.
The other professional clubs – from all four Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) divisions – to sign up are St Johnstone, Dumbarton, Airdrieonians, Albion Rovers, Forfar Athletic, Elgin City and Peterhead.
Research by the Equality Network launched in 2012 showed that 57% of LGBT people would be more likely to participate in sport if it was more LGBT friendly, and that football was the sport with the biggest challenges to overcome.
Scott Cuthbertson, development manager of the Equality Network, said: “We’re delighted that these clubs, from across all four SPFL divisions, are today making a commitment to LGBT supporters, officials and the next generation of LGBT players.
Super pleased to be announcing all the Football Clubs who have today signed up to make the game more LGBT inclusive. #Inclusivefootball— Equality Network (@LGBTIScotland) August 5, 2017
“Today’s message is loud and clear, everyone is welcome at football and we are working for a more inclusive game.
“We don’t yet have any openly LGBT professional players in the men’s professional game in Scotland but we know there are plenty of LGBT fans.
“Thank you to those clubs who have already taken this step. For clubs who haven’t yet signed up and who want to make their club more inclusive, our door is always open.”
Celtic captain Scott Brown said: “This is an issue which needs to be addressed and tackled and therefore we are delighted to sign up to the charter and promote the very important message that sport is for all.”
Rangers striker Kenny Miller said: “Everyone should be able to take part, enjoy and succeed in sport whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, and we are proud to support this initiative.”
Ian Maxwell, managing director at Partick Thistle, said: “Football can be a very powerful tool to help fight all types of discrimination.
“Football is a universal language so no matter what your race, religion, background, gender or sexuality, kicking a ball about or watching your team on a Saturday helps put everyone on a level playing field. That is why, as a club, we are very proud to sign up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter.
“There is no place for discrimination of any kind in football – or sport more generally for that matter – so being able to play our own small part in helping to eradicate it was a no-brainer for us as a club.”