BBC Newsbeat asks: is homophobia just “banter”?

1:48 pm - August 23rd 2013

by Newswire    

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BBC Newsbeat team posted this question today on Twitter


They later justified this with another tweet

Some people may indeed think homophobic / racist / misogynist chants are just “banter” – but should the BBC draw that equivalence?

Would the return of widespread football-fans chanting of “You fucking Paki bastard” simply be seen as banter?

Seems like an absurd question to ask…
(via @FelicityMorse)

Update: They have tweeted at us to clarify


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Reader comments

Oh dear. A liberal suggesting that an opinion should be surpressed because it suggests that there is another type of speech that should possibly not be surpressed. Sometimes I wish that people remembered what liberalism was.

The bbc is not drawing any equivalence either, it is asking a question.

*supressed* before I get corrected.

I don’t have a problem with the BBC asking the question, and having an adult discussion around it.

There clearly _are_ people who feel that shouting insults at people is part of what makes competition fun. Everyone shouts the most offensive thing they can think of, nobody takes it seriously, and everyone has a jolly good time.

And then there are people who feel horribly upset by that kind of behaviour, belittled, offended, and made to feel that this is not somewhere that is accepting to them.

Having an adult conversation in which people can see the other’s point of view, and understand the effects they have on each other, sounds entirely sensible to me.

Sunny Hundal, have you ever read Duleep Allirajah the Spiked sports guy?

That article is titled ”Kick the speech cops out of football”.
Maybe you’ve never been to a football match and don’t understand the culture.
And don’t know that policing fans to within an inch of their lives is just draconian. Not for racist stuff – which hardly happens anymore anyway, but maybe with this ”anti-homophobia” agenda.
Even calling a player an ”old woman” might now be deemed to be an offence. As will be mocking Brighton fans for being from a gay town.
It’s not really funny IMO, but Brighton is a ”gay friendly town”.

Ah yes, the usual “disapproving of homophobic (or whatever) behaviour means you’re trying to censor everyone”

Like football matches were a great place to be before the heavy campaigning of Kick It out and others that made it socially unacceptable to do those oh so hilarious monkey gestures at black players.

6. The Thought Gang

There’s some pretty hateful stuff still shouted at football matches. Some of it uses racial/homophobic/sexist language.. it rather depends on who the target is. Most people are fairly uninventive when it comes to being nasty so they pick a trait and run with it… Paki, Nigger, Ginger, Fatty, Baldy, Speccy. Sometimes they just guess or make something up.. Poof, Motherfucker, Peado etc etc. Just think of how schoolchildren behave and implant that into adults who are exactly as (un)sophisticated.

We shouldn’t care about the words chosen. We should only care about what intent is behind them. But I get that it’s easy for me (straight white bloke) to say that. So instead of that, why don’t we leave it for people who are at the matches and are actually offended by what they hear, to raise the matter ‘locally’?

I’ve heard people say things that I didn’t think should be said. And I’ve told them. And I’ve seen others do the same. That usually works in ways that a diktat from the ‘professionally offended’ never will.

Cracking down on widespread racist chanting only ‘worked’ because society changed… once everyone was interacting with different races every day chucking bananas at black players got less appealing. If anyone can stop the careless use of homophobic/misogynist language in everyday life then football will follow. It will *never* happen the other way round.

So.. what counts as ‘banter’, and is it OK? Well isn’t that for the people on either side of it to decide? Are women in football crowds bothered if someone shouts ‘you tackle like a girl?’ Do Brighton fans really care if anyone chants ‘does your boyfriend know you’re here’ (in my experience.. no.. they tend to cheer and wolf-whistle and then point out that the place I come from is full of murderers).

Fans, en masse or as individuals, can usually pick something that’s crossed the line. Hillsborough/Munich songs are designed to upset people, some stuff is seriously nasty. Self-regulation might not be 100% successful.. but it will (and does) work better than anything else that anyone has come up with.


Can’t you see that not every comment needs to be ‘phobic’.
You can’t ban stating the truth, can you, or is this what you want to achieve? Where would you draw the line below?

“You’re **** and you’re rubbish.”


What’s your order of offensiveness?


Yes Dave, they are trying to censor everyone.
Didn’t you hear the news just yesterday?

Football fans face prosecution for ‘online hooliganism’

Alice Ashworth from the charity Stonewall said gay fans were put off going to matches because of homophobic chanting.

“We welcome the fact that the new policy on football-related offences addresses homophobic chanting for the first time,” she said.

Equating fan ”homophobia and sexism” with racism is being a bit dishonest IMO. Unless we actually have now entered the ”PC” age. Where everyone is supposed to be totally fine with every aspect of sexuality. Even Bradley Manning now saying he wants to be regarded as a woman, when he’s actually not one.


Racism used to be socially acceptable in this country, now it isn’t, by and large. Homophobia is more socially acceptable than racism today – but that doesn’t make it right any more than racism was 20 years ago. Both are wrong. It’s not ‘political correctness gone mad’ to crack down on homophobia. Is it just ‘politically correct’ to stop people throwing bananas at black players? No, of course not. Nor is it political correctness to stop homophobic abuse. Anyone who thinks that it is is obviously a homophobe.

“The BBC is not drawing any equivalence either, it is asking a question.”

The litmus test is whether the BBC would ‘ask a question’ in a similar way about racism.

Would the BBC ask, speak to a representative of Kick Racism Out of Football thus:

“Some people might argue that racist abuse is just banter. What would you say to them?”

There is no way in a million years the BBC would ask that question. It would rightly cause absolute outrage and they know it.

The BBC has form for ‘just asking questions’ about homophobia and gay people that they would never do and have never done about other minorities – for instance when they held a ‘debate’ on whether or not gay people should be executed.

There are few issues as effective as racism and homophobia at diverting attention from important popular concerns such as what has happened to living standards. EUphobia is another way of shifting the blame.

There are few more drearily obvious tactics for the homophobe or racist than:

1. to complain that we should be talking about more important matters such as the economy.


2. to stupidly imply that politics is a zero sum game in which addressing one issue must mean you neglect another one.

If fans stopped making homophobic chants then there would be no call for anyone to discuss the issue. Simple.

Our forebears were often wiser than we give them credit for:

Complaints by London merchants led King Edward II of England to issue a proclamation banning football in London on April 13, 1314 because, “…there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls from which many evils may arise which God forbid; we command and forbid, on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future.”

“There have been many attempts to ban football, from the middle ages through to the modern day. The first such law was passed in England in 1314; it was followed by more than 30 in England alone between 1314 and 1667.”

Where everyone is supposed to be totally fine with every aspect of sexuality. Even Bradley Manning now saying he wants to be regarded as a woman, when he’s actually not one.

You would bring up Chelsea in a discussion about football wouldn’t ya! 😉

In comment 4 damon writes:

“As will be mocking Brighton fans for being from a gay town.
It’s not really funny IMO, but Brighton is a ”gay friendly town”.”

What is meant by this?

damon seems to say, it is not really funny, but after all, Brighton is a “gay friendly town” so that is alright then?

If so I think that is really a very stupid and ignorant comment.

Before damon accuses me of being against “freedom of speech” I would like damon to remember that freedom of speech works both ways.

If damon is free to say that it is legitimate to mock people for whatever reason, then I am free to say what I think about damon’s comments.

Please stop trying to suppress debate like this. Free speech or fucking bust, I say.

Of course Patrick James, mock away.
The core of this thread is that BBC Newsbeat had the temerity to ask: ”Good idea/overreaction? Abuse/banter?” How dare they even discuss such an idea seems to be the objection. To set out an issue in which they were inviting a variety of different viewpoints to be aired – and argued.
The OP seems to regard this as wholly illegitimate.

No discussion, no debate. The police and football clubs need to censor the fans and the internet forums and bring criminal prosecutions and banning orders on those people who say the wrong thing. I’m guesing that people here won’t even look at that link I did in post 4. That football fans need to be cut off at the knees, where even calling someone an ”old woman” or some antiquated bit of abuse like that, could see police or strwards getting in your face about it. Throwing you out or even arresting you. Maybe swearing next? Particularly the ”C word” as that’s really offensive.

Patrick James, you might not get this but I’ll try to explain. Football fans wind each other up with the most un-PC forms of abuse. In your Liverpool slums” was a song I remember, that changed the words to the song ”In my Liverpool home”.
Ban that? What about ”You dirty northern b******s”? Ban that too?
Brighton is ”a gay town” and the Brighton football hooligans (as that’s the way it used to be) used to get mocked for not being hard as nails tough guys like they wanted to project themselves as being, and hooligan types from other clubs would say to them ”You’re not hard cases – half of you are probably gay.”
As most ”normal” hooligan groups generally didn’t have a lot of gay guys amongst them.

It wasn’t to insult gay people, any more than if they were said to be not tough hooligans, but trainspotters. As trainspotters generally aren’t perceived as fearsome hard men. See?
This is of course what teenage boys think is funny, not us older people. But it’s hardly the world’s biggest crime, and it’s not even particully about gay people.
It’s just a way of saying to other fans, ”we don’t even rate you as being tough – you’re more like gays” … who aren’t seen as enjoying casual violence and that kind of football tribe culture.

One thing people are overlooking here though is the policing of all this. It means that fans in the stands need to be evermore watched, listed to, filmed and recorded. As is this hadn’t gone far enough already.
Lines of stewards already stand at pitch-side with their backs to the game looking directly back at the supporters. Everything is being filmed and fussed over. Every chant has to be judged by an umpire of some kind. What seems like a good idea at the time – like banning sectarianism at Scottish games, means that the match-day experience gets ever-more policed and sanitised.

There are detailed arguments about this issue, but I feel they will be lost on LC readers.
Far from being a symbol of ‘deep hatreds’ in Scottish society, sectarian abuse at Celtic/ Rangers games is just footballing fun.

Btw, no one here is talking about how different views of sexuality have now all been thrown into the mix (so to speak) and we are all now meant to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Do you really expect the devoutly conservative religious ”to get” the culture at a hedonistic gay club? Instead of always lamenting how terrible things (ordinary people) were, maybe people should be happy with how far things have come.
Loads and loads of people whose fathers were homophobic bigots, are much more easy going and enlightened about homosexuality. I even heard a London Black Taxi driver complaining about the way the story of a mini cab driver who chucked a gay couple for holding hands out of the car was reported, because it wasn’t a black taxi. No badge owning black taxi driver would ever do such a thing these days. They were quite used to gay people. He was actually saying (without saying it) that it was more likely to be a recent immigrant in a mini cab who would kick up a fuss like that. Your ”biggotted London black taxi” driver has become more metropolitan and easy going about homosexuality, and so has your average football fan.

18. the a&e charge nurse

One would never hear such gauche language at LFC – the club have spoken

Presumably the list can only grow over time?

Some of the banter is funny though.

ANY form of censorship is Nazism in my book, to be honest. I’d have hardcore porn on terrestrial TV at teatime.

21. Alex Hosking

I dunno does “You fucking Paki bastard” sound like banter? Racial banter does exist, there’s plenty of it on Vine.

I suppose the question worth asking, then, is why stop at football grounds? And why stop at homophobia?

People shouldn’t have to listen to language that demeans women or expresses xenophobia on the bus or at work, or anywhere else in public. In the privacy of your own home, you are free to say whatever you like; elsewhere, you have to conform to decent standards of behaviour, and that means if it’s on the list of banned words, you’ll just have to find a different way to express your hatred of those less powerful than you.

Good comment @6
<i?We shouldn’t care about the words chosen. We should only care about what intent is behind them. But I get that it’s easy for me (straight white bloke) to say that. So instead of that, why don’t we leave it for people who are at the matches and are actually offended by what they hear, to raise the matter ‘locally’?

FWIW, Brighton fans have more recently begun to complain about homophobic chants and visiting fans have been ejected from the ground for it (a few from Derby just a couple of weeks back being the most recent). Equally, though, there are plenty of Brighton fans who’d subscribe to the ‘just banter’ line. I don’t know where the balance is.

That said, there was a suggestion a while back that Spurs fans shouldn’t be allowed to chant Yiddoes… at themselves. Which is a pretty clear indication of where this stuff can end up if taken too far.

Some fans still shout “YOU POOF” at a player who’s gone down like a sack of spuds and is rolling round on the floor like’s been hit by an express train when really he’s just taken a slight knock.

There’s usually no homophobic anti-gay intent behind it just a way of saying that this particular player is behaving like a wet wimp.

If we were gonna round up fans for saying that we’d be rounding up a lot.

First they came for the racists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a racist. Then they came for the Old Firm sectarians and I didn’t speak out because wasn’t a sectarian. Then they came for the homophobes.

That’s Duleep Allirajah on Spiked talking about this.
The headline is ”A limp-wristed defence of free speech” …. and goes on to argue that: ”The lack of protest against new guidelines clamping down on homophobic chants shows free speech only applies to the ‘right’ kind of people.”

You might not agree, but it’s a point of view.
One which I largely share. Read it here.

26. mylastpostwaseliminated

Note the words
-are Never mentioned.

They are the ones implementing this type of brain-fuck on all you ignorant Goyim(cattle/animals)
– whilst getting you chattering like munkeys

27. TrueLiberalThought

The sight that supports THE most dangerously Homophobic religion in the World, Islam, has no right to say shit about anything.

28. Man on Clapham Omnibus

13. Bob B

God does indeed move in mysterious ways.

Homophobic twats, we should round them up and kill them all. I’m sick and tired of people who think differently to me, once they are all dead then we should have some equality and hopefully live in a world where people don’t have to fear others because they want to live their life how they wish

“Misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.”

See post 26. Evidently vile words like ‘Yid’ and ‘Kike’ to describe Jews (leaving aside the insane, no evidence whatsoever conspiracy theory mentality behind their appearance here) are okay with the ‘anti-racist’ LC.

28 Man on a Clapham Omnibus
“God does indeed move in mysterious ways.”

On the Brighton Road going south out of Croydon town centre, there used to be a Sandwich Bar called “Edward II”. I long wondered why on earth would owners of a sandwich bar want to trade under the name of: Edward II. It wasn’t until I came across an account of the unhappy and unusually spectacular demise of Edward II that I saw a possible connection. Edward II is buried in Gloucester Cathedral. He was the first English monarch to establish Oxford colleges, which tells us something about his social priorities and gives us an insight as to why he might have wanted to ban football. Just possibly, that could explain the roots of the homophobic culture of football.

Anyway, for whatever reason, the sandwich bar in question came under new management early in the recession and, sadly, the name was changed.

32. SocialistsAgainstPC

Anyone who gets offended by insulting words is weak, in my opinion.

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