Australia: New survey reveals homophobic abuse affects four in five gay athletes
A new survey of Australian sport has revealed that 85 percent of gay sportsmen and -women have seen or experienced homophobic abuse.
The ‘Out in the Fields’ study involved almost 2500 athletes at all levels, and was evenly split between gay and straight respondents, aged 15 upwards. It was launched to mark the Bingham Cup, which will be held in Sydney next month and commemorates the late gay rugby union player Mark Bingham.
The Australian survey is the first phase of what hopes to become an international survey of homophobia in sport.
It found that 85 percent of gay sportspeople surveyed had seen or experienced homophobia, while 48 percent had been direct targets of homophobic abuse. The figures for heterosexual respondents were lower, but still worrying, at 75 percent and 48 percent respectively.
Verbal insults were the most common form of abuse reported, attested by 82 percent of those who said they had experienced homophobia. Social exclusion was reported at 28 percent, and physical assaults were reported in 13 percent of cases.
Sixty-four percent of gay and lesbian respondents said homophobia was more common in sporting environments than in other areas of society.
The impact of homophobia in Australian sport can also be seen in the recent comments of pundit Brian Taylor, who dubbed a player “a big poofter” while commentating on a football match. Although Taylor kept his job, he is now undergoing counselling.
Commenting on the study, Jason Ball, the first openly gay Australian rules footballer, said: “To all of the people who thought that Brian Taylor’s comments weren’t a big deal, this research shows that homophobic language has a profound impact on our sporting culture.”
“Until we create a more inclusive sporting environment, people will feel forced to stay in the closet until their careers are over,” he added.