Rio Olympic LGBT Athletes Say Crowds Are Chanting Homophobic Slurs At Them

A record 43 LGBT athletes are competing in the Rio Olympics games this summer, but some of those Olympians have already become the targets of homophobic slurs from the crowds, reports the LA Times.

The homophobic insults were heard coming from the stands of Estadio Mineirao on Wednesday when women’s soccer players took the field.

The L.A. Times reported that people in the stands hurled the anti-gay term, “bicha” -a Portuguese word similar to ‘faggot’ at women on the field.

Think Progress adds:

Until Wednesday, the word has always been reserved for men’s games, local journalists reported, but fans shouted it during the U.S.-New Zealand match as well as the Canada-Australia game.

At least six people on the field that day identified as lesbian, including midfielder Megan Rapinoe and head coach Jill Ellis on the USWNT. Stephanie Labbé, Canada’s out goalkeeper, was also targeted.

“I don’t think most of those fans would have said that directly to my face. I don’t think they mean it in that way,” Rapinoe said, adding that she was hurt by the use of the word. “But they need to understand that that’s how it’s taken. They need to understand if all of you are willing to do that, what does that say to a gay player? Especially in the men’s game.”

“Being an out athlete at the Olympics is an important opportunity to live my truth while competing at the highest level in sport,” Heyman, a member of the Australian Women’s National Soccer Team, told ThinkProgress. “Everyone has the right to be themselves and they shouldn’t have to hide. We need to accept, understand, and celebrate that everyone and every athlete is different.”