clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Golf legend Greg Norman dismisses discrimination against LGBTQ people: ‘I’m not sure I have gay friends’

Norman is the CEO of a new Saudi-backed golf league, and doesn’t appear concerned about the kingdom’s abysmal record on LGBTQ rights.

PIF Saudi International - Previews
Greg Norman has won 30 PGA Tour Championships, but claims he has zero gay friends.
Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Golf legend Greg Norman is the CEO of a new Saudi-backed league. With LIV Golf’s first tournament set for next month, the 20-time PGA Tour champion has been trying to drum up interest in the nascent organization.

Part of that is downplaying Saudi Arabia’s brutal record when it comes to human rights and LGBTQ issues.

Norman is rightfully being pilloried for his comments in a recent Golf Digest interview brushing aside Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We’ve all made mistakes,” says the man who spent 331 weeks as the No. 1 golfer in the world.

But Norman didn’t stop there. When asked about the kingdom’s abysmal treatment of LGBTQ people, he dismissed the question outright.

“I’m not sure whether I even have any gay friends, to be honest with you,” he said.

That’s the kind of rhetoric we would expect from an atavistic strongman like Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who once infamously said there were no gay people in Chechnya.

Instead, it comes from Norman, one of the PGA Tour’s most iconic figures. He talks about gay people as if we’re a foreign species, stashed in some faraway land.

Norman claims he doesn’t have any gay people in his life, so why would he care about us?

Norman’s outrageous comments show how the golf world is bereft of LGBTQ visibility. This year was the 86th straight Masters with zero out gay players. Over the years, few pro golfers have even made statements in support of LGBTQ causes.

Conversely, several pro golfers, including Justin Thomas, have been caught making homophobic comments.

They’ve all apologized, for what it’s worth.

We’ve profiled multiple gay golfers over the years, all of whom talk about the need for more representation. Caddie Todd Montoya recently came out, as did Palm Springs-area golf pro Kyle Winn.

The most well-known out pro golfer is probably Tadd Fujikawa, who was the youngest player in U.S. Open history. He recently told Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler the sport is in need of outspoken allies.

“If the players on the PGA Tour were more outspoken about it, it would help our cause a lot,” Fujikawa said. “But I think a lot of the players feel that it doesn’t really involve them, so being quiet is OK.”

That captures Norman’s position to a tee: see no evil, hear no evil.

In his mind, Saudi Arabia can treat LGBTQ people however it wants, just as long as his golf league is up and running.