'This has to happen now' – City stalwart voices support for homophobic chants to be made illegal
PUBLISHED: 09:47 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:03 26 June 2018
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Norwich City stalwart Russell Martin and sporting director Stuart Webber were among those to show support for a law change to make homophobic chanting at matches illegal at the Houses of Parliament.
Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe and chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, is leading efforts to amend the 1991 Football Offences Act to put homophobic abuse on a par with racism.
The bill was introduced yesterday and will be debated by MPs in October, with speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, hosting an event alongside former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas – who came out in 2009 and has campaigned to tackle homophobia in sport.
Martin and Webber both represented the Canaries at the event, as well as director of football administration Zoe Ward, and the long-serving City defender took to Instagram to voice his support afterwards.
“Proud to represent @NorwichCityFC and support Gareth Thomas and MP Damian Collins today as they propose a draft bill to amend the 1991 Football Offences Act,” wrote the Scotland international.
“Gareth’s hard work and dedication to making this positive change for our game is an inspiration so I was delighted and honoured to be there today to witness his hard work being recognised.
“The proposed amendment, will give legal protection to LGBT players and fans. This will make homophobic chanting at all football matches illegal.
“This has to happen now. Football should be about bringing people together and being united in support for your club. A football match should be an atmosphere to be savoured and enjoyed, one that everyone feels comfortable in supporting or playing for their team regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Martin has made 309 appearances for the Canaries since initially joining from Peterborough on loan in 2009 but spent the second half of last season on loan with Scottish giants Rangers.