Yorkshireman Root was asked to explain the tussle with Gabriel.
Joe Root has suggested West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel said something he "might regret" during an on-field exchange.
England's captain appeared to tell Gabriel "there's nothing wrong with being gay" while batting on day three of the third Test in Saint Lucia, with the comments apparently picked up on television via the stump microphone.
Gabriel's part of the conversation did not seem to be audible but the Trinidadian was spoken to by at least one of the on-field umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and Rod Tucker, about his language.
Following the close of play, Root was asked to explain the tussle with Gabriel.
"It's Test cricket. He's an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match.
"Sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret, but they should stay on the field.
"He's a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest. He's had a wonderful series and he should be proud."
Robbie de Santos, Head of Campaigns for Stonewall, told Sky News: "What we've seen here is a genuine response from Joe Root that will be really heartening to LGBT people throughout sport that there are allies like this speaking up for us."
West Indies coach Richard Pybus was unaware of any potential controversy at close of play but told the BBC: "Nothing has been reported to me but if a comment was made we'll review it and if it was untoward we'll be addressing it."
Sledging is a term used in cricket to describe how some players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating an opposing player to try to affect their concentration.