Tom Daley called out anti-LGBT laws in the Commonwealth as he picked up a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
The out British diving champion landed his fourth Commonwealth Games gold last night, as he won the men’s synchronised 10-metre platform dive alongside fellow Brit Dan Goodfellow.
But Daley, who has long been passionate about LGBT rights, took the moment to address the problematic legacy of the Commonwealth on equality.
He said: “Coming to the Gold Coast and being able to live as an openly gay man is really important.
“You want to feel comfortable in who you are when you are standing on that diving board, and for 37 Commonwealth countries that are here participating that is not the case.
“I feel with the Commonwealth, we can really help push some of the other nations to relax their laws on anti-gay stuff.”
The diver also spoke about competing in countries where being gay is not accepted, as an openly gay man.
He said: “Going to Russia can be scary – you’ve got to compete in front of lots of people who know I’ve got a husband.
“You have to face those things and try and make change.”
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “🏳️🌈 37 of the competing nations criminalise being LGBT+.
“I feel so lucky to be able to be openly who I am without worry. I hope one day every athlete from every nation in the commonwealth will be free to compete openly as who they are too! 🏳️🌈”
The number of Commonwealth countries that criminalise gay sex actually dropped to 36 on Thursday, as the High Court of Trinidad and Tobego decriminalised homosexuality.
In his ruling, Judge Devindra Rampersad wrote: “The court declares that sections 13 and 16 of the [Sexual Offences Act] are unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.”
Many of the anti-LGBT laws in the Commonwealth originated in the British Empire, with Colonial-era penal codes banning gay sex that were simply never repealed.
More than a billion people still live under anti-LGBT laws in the Commonwealth.
Even in the UK, however, Daley has faced homophobia.
The 23-year-old Olympic diver has recently been pilloried in the UK’s right-wing press after announcing plans to have a baby via surrogate.
Tabloid columnists insisted it was “not normal” for two men to have a baby, while others claimed the pair were “exploiting” a woman to have a child – though the pair have since shared details about their surrogacy arrangement that rubbished most of the claims.
Speaking to the Times last month, Daley opened up about what it was like to be attacked just for wanting to be a father.
He said: “We have an egg donor and a surrogate and we feel very lucky.
“I am able to live my life without worrying what people think. People say whatever they say. I get tons [of abuse] every day, but at the end of the day, I’m married with a kid on the way and I don’t care what anyone says.
“I don’t care if they don’t like it. It took me a long time to get to that place but I am here. I think, ‘Whatever.'”
Speaking about how impending fatherhood has impacted him, Daley added: “It has changed me. Even flying out on the plane I am normally fine with turbulence and just fall asleep, but now I’m thinking, ‘It’s not just me.’
“Holy crap, I have to worry about looking after a human being and being in charge of making sure they survive and thrive.
“Diving is no longer my number one [concern]. My child is number one and diving is number two and, for me, that order might help.
“All of a sudden coming to training is no longer my crazy, chaotic time; it’s the quiet time without a screaming, pooping child.”