Sports minister Andrew Barr says LGBTI athletes suffer isolation and exclusion
Sports Minister Andrew Barr told the ACT Legislative Assembly he believed same-sex attracted athletes suffered from exclusion and isolation and little has been done to end discrimination and homophobia in sports.
Barr described a ‘don’t ask don’t tell' mentality and suggested LGBTI athletes were all but invisible in Australian sport.
''Sadly many choose not to participate in sport at all, even though the research shows they have a very strong desire to do so,'' Barr told the Assembly. ''Others have developed a range of strategies for safe participation in their sport, which include trying to pass themselves off as straight in the sporting environment, which is not a particularly healthy way forward … Others refuse to stay silent and are open and visible in regards to their sexuality or gender and confront the stereotypes that exist.''
Barr’s pronouncements should come as no surprise when considered alongside recent survey material which suggested 40 percent of respondents felt unsafe in the sporting environment and 37 percent said they were not open about their sexuality, while a third had experienced verbal bullying and harassment.
Barr said offensive and homophobic language was commonplace and suggested the government needed to work with the LGBTI community to develop a framework to end harassment. Barr also suggested more advocates needs to come forward to encourage LGBTI people’s involvent in sport. He praised David Pocock and Lauren Jackson for their work in advocating for LGBTI young people in sport.
Barr’s announcement comes just a day after the CEOs of Australia’s major football codes and Cricket Australia banded together to sign an agreement to implement a framework to end homophobia in sports.