Out in the Fields study reveals Aussie sport rife with homophobia
The results of the Out in the Fields survey are in, and according to preliminary findings, the majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) athletes have experienced homophobia in sports.
2500 Australians took part in the survey and respondents included equal numbers of LGB and heterosexual people. Of those surveyed, 85 percent of LGB people and 75 percent of heterosexual participants said they had experienced or witnessed homophobia in sport; with team sporting environments providing the majority of offences.
Most commonly homophobia took the form of gay slurs such as 'fag', 'dyke' and 'poofter'. Interestingly a quarter of the heterosexual men surveyed had also been targets of homophobia.
“The results are eye-opening, but they also confirm what we have been hearing from our players for the last 10 years,” says David Whittaker, a founding player and president of the Sydney Convicts, Australia’s first gay rugby union club.
”Many of our players left their club or sport because of a culture where homophobic comments and behaviour are tolerated and commonplace, such as the slur by the AFL presenter broadcast last weekend. These players join teams like the Convicts to play a sport they love without worrying whether they will be accepted for their sexuality.”
Next month the Sydney Convicts will play host to the Bingham Cup – commonly referred to as the gay rugby world cup. 1000s of players and supporters will descend on Sydney for the tournament, with teams from 12 nations competing for glory.
In preparation for the tournament, the major sporting codes have signed an anti-homophobia framework with the hopes of tackling and eliminating homophobia in Australian sports. If today’s results are anything to go by there is a long way to go before the framework achieves its goals.
Binghm Cup ambassador, Alex Blackwell is one of Australia’s only ‘out’ lesbian professional athletes. The vice-captain of the national female cricket team, the CBA Southern Stars, said, “Whether you are playing elite or amateur homophobia is something we have all experienced at some point. The results of this study show that we still have a fair bit of work to do around changing sporting culture in Australia and making it a safe place for people to be open about their sexuality.
"Thankfully Australia’s major sports have started working together to achieve this goal and my sense is the general public is also much more aware now of the need for change.”
To assist in spreading the anti-homophobia message athletes from all areas of Aussie sports have appeared in an anti homophobia video.
Image: The Burgess Brothers throw their weight behind the anti homophobia campaign.
Watch: You Can Play