Newcastle Falcons and Northumbria Police don rainbow laces for Stonewall campaign

24 Nov 2017 12:15 PM

Rainbow laces [View Full Size]

Top rugby players could don rainbow laces as they take to the field this weekend in support of a police campaign to tackle homophobia.

Northumbria Police and Newcastle Falcons rugby club have joined forces to raise awareness around tackling hate crime against the LGBT+ community.

Players across all 12 Aviva Premiership clubs have been given the option of wearing rainbow laces on their boots this weekend in a bid to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport.

It will be the second time the Falcons have supported the campaign after a number of players wore rainbow laces in a match against Northampton Saints last year.

Police officers across the force will also be wearing the rainbow laces to get the message to the public that hate crime has no place in sport - either on or off the field.

There will also be officers from the force’s LGBT+ Association volunteering their own time to be at the game itself on Friday evening with their rainbow police car to engage with the public and hand out a number of rainbow laces to fans.

Northumbria Police Chief Inspector, Steve Hails, has praised the Falcons for getting involved and said he is proud at how much the 'Being you is not a crime' campaign has grown since its launch.

He said: "When we launched our hate crime campaign in 2013 our main objective was to show members of minority groups that we were on their side.

"Many individuals did not think that police would take them seriously if they came to us and reported that they were being targeted for who they were. Whether that be on the basis of gender, sexuality, race, religion, age or disability.

"In the past four years I think we have made huge strides and the number of hate crimes being reported to us has drastically increased since we launched the campaign.

"That proves that people have more confidence to come forward and speak to us and I want to thank the Falcons for supporting us as we try and share our messages with the public.

"Even if one person in the crowd gets the message that targeting somebody because of who they are is wrong, then it will all have been worth it.

"People should be free to be themselves and express themselves and if anyone feels they are being targeted because of that then please contact us, speak to us, and we will help."

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: "In wearing these rainbow laces we’re making a clear and visible statement to our LGBT+ communities here in Northumbria that we are committed to taking action against any form of hate crime committed against them.

"It really is important that all victims have the confidence to report hate crimes, if not to the police, to one of our partners.

"My message to anyone suffering any form of prejudice or discrimination is to feel that they can speak up. Nobody should suffer alone in this way – help is at hand."

Mick Hogan, managing director of Newcastle Falcons, said: "Rugby prides itself on being an inclusive game and it is fantastic that the Aviva Premiership clubs are making the rainbow laces available to their players.

"There is no place for discrimination in any walk of life, including professional sport, and hopefully we are able to play some part in reinforcing that message.”

'Being you is not a crime, targeting you is' is Northumbria Police's hate crime campaign that was launched in 2013 with the aim of raising awareness around what hate crime is, the work that police and partners do to tackle it and the support that is out there for people who have experienced hate crime.

A crime is considered to be a hate crime if someone has been targeted because of a protected characteristic, these include: race, faith, religion, disability, gender identity, age or sexual orientation.

Anyone can report a hate crime – victims, families, carers or someone unrelated to a victim who has been witness.

The rainbow laces are the idea of Stonewall UK following their research suggesting that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia remains a problem at all levels of sport.

Stonewall realises that most sport fans and players do welcome and accept lesbian, gay, bi and trans teammates and fans and so the rainbow laces are therefore for everyone to come together in a sign of solidarity to send a united positive message that LGBT people are welcome in sport and across wider society.

The initiative has the full backing and support of the Northumbria Police LGBT Network. You can follow the LGBT Network on Twitter @NPLGBT or Ch Insp Steve Hails on @NPCIHAILS.