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Survey looks closely at homophobia in sport

Wed 21 May 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News

Wallaby David Pocock is urging people to take part Organisers of the next Bingham Cup in Sydney are running an international study of homophobia in sport, and New Zealanders are being urged to take part. The study, called “Out on the Fields” is asking people from around the world to share their experiences of discrimination, whether on the sports field or in the stands. Take part here It’s the first time that a large-scale national study has been conducted in Australia and the first time an international study on homophobia in sport has also been conducted. Participation in the study is open to everyone, regardless of sexuality, though lgb people are asked a unique set of questions. Researchers will compare the perspective around homophobia between straight and lgb people. “Out on the Fields” was conceived by organisers of the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, the world cup of gay rugby, and the Sydney Convicts, Australia’s first gay rugby union club. Initially organisers only wanted to study Australia but quickly realised this kind of study had never been done internationally and it would be valuable to be able to compare Australia with other countries. Andrew Purchas from the Bingham Cup and the Convicts says he is often asked by media, governments and others in Australia about the prevalence of homophobia in sports. “Anecdotally we know that homophobia is unfortunately very common and is the reason for people stopping playing and being involved in sport. However we don't know how widespread the problem is since there has been very little large-scale research on the issue. We want to ensure homophobia in sport no longer remains hidden or ignored and sports become inclusive and welcoming for all, whether playing amateur or professional.” Australian rugby player David Pocock is urging people to participate. “I think it’s really important that we find out just how prevalent prejudice against people with different sexual orientations is in sport, so that we can begin challenging it at all levels of sport from when kids are starting out right up to professional levels,” he says. Wales Rugby legend Gareth Thomas, who came ‘out of the closet’ in 2009, is another well-known athlete encouraging people to take part. "Many athletes around the world fear they won’t be accepted by their teammates and others if they are honest about their sexuality. I was one of those athletes and I wish, at the time, I understood how many other people were experiencing the same thing. “We need to change sporting culture so that sexuality is no longer an issue and sport is welcoming and accepting to everyone. I strongly encourage people to participate in this study and share their stories, good or bad, so that we can gain a better understanding of the experiences of athletes around the world," he says. Dr. Caroline Symons, from Melbourne’s Victoria University, is one of seven experts involved in the study. She says Australians are playing an important role in helping to end homophobia in sport by shining a light on how often gay, lesbian and bisexual people face discrimination, particularly in team sports. “This study will help determine how often people witness or experience homophobia in Australia and Internationally, how many stay in the closet and which team sporting environments are the least welcoming for same-sex attracted people. The research will also help us compare Australia’s sporting culture with other countries, which will help us identify which countries are doing the best work in this area.”     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 21st May 2014 - 1:14pm

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