In January, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the ‘Chelsea Rent Boys’ chant – heard aimed at Norwich’s Billy Gilmour by Liverpool fans – is now classed as a hate crime.
This means that fans who sing this chant can be punished by their clubs in the same way as they would be for racism.
This, coupled with a recent increase in homophobic attacks in Liverpool in the last few months, can make the city feel like an unsafe place for LGBT+ footballers and football fans.
Yet, despite this, there are numerous organisations across Liverpool determined to change how the LGBT+ community are viewed and tackle homophobia in the sport.
The Mersey Marauders are a LGBT+ based football club based in Liverpool. Their primary aim is to offer players who define themselves as LGBT+ an opportunity to play football in a supportive environment.
Long-time player for the Marauders, Chase Newton, discussed the importance of having LGBT+ football teams.
He said: “People can feel intimidated in the straight world of sport.
“It can be macho and aggressive, people often use homophobic language so people can be put off from even trying to play because of that.
“In the Marauders we don’t even ask people to clarify their sexuality, people can be as honest as they like and there is no prerequisite for someone to be LGBT+, there is no pressure to be ‘laddy’ or fit into a group – people of all abilities can play without hassle or aggression.”
Since being established in 2005, the Marauders have gone on to win several honours in the Gay Football Supporters Network National League (GFSN).
They encourage players of any ability who class themselves as LGBT+ or an ally to join their team by offering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members.
In the Premier League, homophobia has been seen as an issue for decades.
Liverpool FC’s LGBT+ fan group, Kop Outs, have been working alongside the club to change the fan bases’ attitude since its creation in 2016.
Paul Amann, founder of the Kop Outs, said: “We want to make sure that there was definitely a space for all Liverpool fans who were LGBT+ to go to the match together, to feel safe together, to be able to do things that a regular match goer would do.”
Paul praised Liverpool’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, on his outspoken views against homophobia, particularly his statement on the Chelsea Rent Boys chant.
“We put out a very public statement after the Norwich game, the club retweeted it. The response I would say was 50/50. After the Klopp interview, I’d say the response was 90/10.
“I think Klopp’s public stance has made an enormous difference because what he tapped into the values of being a Liverpool fan.”
Whilst homophobia remains an issue across the footballing world, communities in Liverpool are taking steps in the right direction to change people’s attitudes.
The message that football is for everyone is what these organisations are fighting for.