September 16, 2013

IconStonewall dares professional footballers to wear rainbow laces

There are approximately 5,000 professional male football players in the UK, but not one of them has come out as gay. Statistically, the chances of this happening by random are one in 22 quadragintillion – that’s 22 followed by 132 zeros. It’s about as likely as predicting the correct score in 150 consecutive football matches.

It’s not a new issue – in fact we’ve covered it several times already on Lesbilicious. But Stonewall’s latest attempt to combat homophobia in football is to send rainbow boot laces to every player in all 134 clubs, and asking them to wear them at the weekend’s matches to show their support for gay players.

“It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game,” says Stonewall Deputy Chief Executive Laura Doughty.

“That’s why we’re working with Paddy Power on this fun and simple campaign. By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football in to the 21st century.”

Whether or not the rainbow laces stunt works – and I hope it does – it seems very strange for Stonewall to be teaming up with Paddy Power on this campaign.

Paddy Power is a gambling company with a reputation for creating edgy adverts, many of which are funny, some of which are offensive. A case in point is this advert, which was banned from TV in May 2012 because it was transphobic:

Upholding the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority said: “We considered that the ad trivialised a highly complex issue and depicted a number of common negative stereotypes about trans people.

“We considered that by suggesting that trans women would look like men in drag, and that their gender could be speculated on as part of a game, the ad irresponsibly reinforced those negative stereotypes. And, particularly by framing the game in a way that involved a member of the public who had commented on Paddy Power’s Facebook page, the ad condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment.”

At the time, Paddy Power expressed dismay that the advert was banned, rather than at the offence it had caused.

Perhaps Paddy Power are hoping that this new association with Stonewall and gay rights will help endear them to the LGBT community and undo some of the harm they’ve done in the past.

Or, perhaps they’re happy to support an LGB issue, particularly when it’s likely to attract some publicity, but they don’t care so much about trans issues. We’ve seen that before too.

UPDATE 17 September 2013

We tweeted Paddy Power asking if they were planning to apologise for the Ladies Day video, but they haven’t responded.

We also tweeted Stonewall asking why they chose to work with Paddy Power. Stonewall responded “The ad was offensive and wrong. We’re glad PP put their hands up, admitted they got it wrong and apologised.”

We asked where Paddy Power had apologised, and we were sent a link to a PDF press release about the rainbow laces campaign on the Paddy Power website, intended for journalists. In the footnote at the end of the press release there was an apology for the Ladies Day video.

If Paddy Power respond directly to us we will update this article.

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Milly Shaw


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