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Gay referee who quit over homophobic abuse says experience has been ‘humiliating’

By Fabio Crispim

Last week, we reported that Spain’s first openly gay professional football referee Jesús Tomillero had quit after suffering homophobic abuse at the hands of fans and players..

Now, Tomillero has spoken to BBC World Service, revealing how he’s started a petition calling for the European Parliament to create a law against homophobia in sport.

Despite describing the experience as “humiliating”, Tomillero he remains hopeful that other gay sportsmen will follow in his lead saying, “I have broken the ice and more will come out now. For me, that is an honour.”

“They will have my full unconditional support. The more of us there are, the stronger we will be. And I’m telling them to come out. To be strong like me. To be brave. And for us to keep fighting for what we want.”

Tomillero reveals that he received support from Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and former Real Madrid goalkeeper, Iker Casillas.

Last year Tomillero came out by posting a photo of himself with his boyfriend on Instagram alongside a caption that read: “This is where my happiness starts.”


He explains how he had to be “brave” but soon after posting the photo, and that the abuse continued, with football clubs referring to him as “the f*g referee.”

“I wanted the Andalusian Football Federation to make a law against homophobia – games suspended or a high fine to be paid because the last fine issues for insulting me with a homophobic slur was €150 (£115),” Tomillero says.

“We shouldn’t be insulted in every game, nor threatened and even attacked. That is what I find deplorable. I think that civilization is not up to date yet.”

The former referee is currently gathering signatures to present to the European Parliament calling for a law against homophobia in sport.

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