Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Sir Ian McKellen slams anti-gay sport fans

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen is open about his sexuality

Actor Sir Ian McKellen has criticised the sports world for its lack of understanding toward homosexuality.

Sir Ian, 70, claimed lack of acceptance turned sports stars into "shrinking violets" when it came to publicly acknowledging their sexuality.

In an interview, to be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live's Tony Livesey show later, he said the sports world should be "ashamed of itself".

"The world is changing," he added "and sport is very slow to catch up."

The veteran actor, who is open about his homosexuality, said sports stars were "absolutely admirable people", but were afraid of negative reaction among fans.

"When it comes to the business of simply being honest about who they are, some of them become little shrinking violets because they're afraid, probably, of being booed from the terraces, and that must be a horrible experience and shame on people who do it.

FROM BBC RADIO 5 LIVE

"But it ain't [sic] going to stop someone being a fantastic footballer because they're honest about their private lives, is it?

"I don't believe so and the world is changing and sport, I'm afraid, is very slow to catch up".

Sir Ian's comments come just weeks after Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas revealed that he is gay but that he had hidden his sexuality for many years from all but his closest colleagues.

The full interview can be heard on BBC 5 live from 2230 GMT.



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