York City to host first Football Against Homophobia match

York Press: From left, Sophie Hicks, Councillor Julie Gunnell, Hayley Parker, Councillor James Alexander, Greg Stephenson and Lawrence Christensen at the launch of York Pride 2014 at the Hilton Hotel From left, Sophie Hicks, Councillor Julie Gunnell, Hayley Parker, Councillor James Alexander, Greg Stephenson and Lawrence Christensen at the launch of York Pride 2014 at the Hilton Hotel

YORK City FC is to dedicate a match this season in the battle against homophobia.

The game against Southend Utd on Saturday, February 22, would be the first Football Against Homophobia match, it was announced at the York Pride 2014 launch last night.

York Pride is a charity which campaigns against inequality and promotes diversity and understanding for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

York City’s communications director Sophie Hicks spoke at the event and pledged to dedicate the match in the fight against homophobia, after last year’s York Pride focused on homophobia in sport.

She said it was football’s “last and most stubborn taboo” and the club wants Bootham Crescent to be a fully inclusive place.

Club captain Chris Smith, also at the launch with player Josh Carson, presented the organisers of York Pride with 100 tickets for the Southend match, for them to distribute among the gay community.

Mrs Hicks said: “I am, however, sad to say that last year our support for York Pride led to the club receiving some negative and abusive correspondence which only strengthens the club’s desire to support York Pride and be active in the fight against homophobia.”

It was announced at the York Pride launch, at the Hilton Hotel, that this year’s campaign would follow last year’s theme of “Out In Sport” with a focus on freedom to be openly LGBT whatever age you are.

Organisers also want to see diversity training in every York secondary school and college to help young people to be open about their sexuality.

York Pride’s Press and Marketing Officer Julian Rudd said 2014 would also be focusing on workplace equality and a fight to make care for older gay people more welcoming.

He said: “We have never asked for favourable treatment, we only want a level playing field for LGBT people.”

The launch also welcomed the event’s major sponsor Benenden Health, who will support the York Pride event on Saturday, June 21, for the second time. The day will see the Pride March through the city streets, ending with a carnival on Knavesmire.

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