Drive to tackle homophobia in sport

SPORT WALES & STONEWALL CYMRU PUBLISH GROUND-BREAKING RESEARCH INTO GAY SPORTS PARTICIPATION

Sport Wales are today calling for the sport sector to unite in making the sporting environment in Wales, one that is safe and welcoming to all, as they launch the results of new research into lesbian, gay and bisexual sports participation in Wales.

LGB postcardConducted in partnership with Stonewall Cymru, and in a bid to better understand the sporting experiences of Wales' LGB communities, the research encouragingly reveals that 94% of the respondents have taken part in sport in the last 12 months; however it has also highlighted certain barriers to sport that Sport Wales are committing to addressing.

Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales, explains;

"Let's be clear; homophobia in sport is completely unacceptable. At Sport Wales, we've made genuine commitments to making sport something that all people in our nation can enjoy; and when we say 'all', we mean 'all', regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or disability.

"Whilst we are encouraged by the high number of respondents that are participating in sport and think that it is both fun, and important to take part in, it was also highlighted that some individuals are being turned off sport, believing it can be an unwelcoming and unsafe environment for gay people."

The research reveals that gay men in particular were more likely than other respondents to say that sport is not a safe environment for LGB individuals, identifying an issue of double exclusion from mainstream sports clubs because of sexual orientation and perceived ability.

 "From schools through to community and professional sport, participants, coaches and spectators, the sector needs to take stock and look at what more can be done to ensure there is a warm welcome for all."

"72% of those asked said they would be more likely to participate in a club if it was marketed as LGB friendly and organised its activities on this basis. That sends a strong message to the sector, there is a captive audience wanting to engage with sport and we need to do all we can to visibly demonstrate a commitment to encouraging them to join us in our ambitions for Welsh sport.

"We're under no illusions that the sport sector alone cannot change the opinions and beliefs of every person in Wales - but as a modern, forward thinking sector, we can make a commitment to make sport inclusive and welcoming. We can think about our own behaviour, and when appropriate, challenge the behaviour of others where it falls short."

Andrew White from Stonewall Cymru added,

"This research shows that for many of Wales' 184,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual people, their experience of sport is not always a positive one. Whilst many are interested in sport, they have also been put off by negative experiences or perceptions."

"If these issues are not addressed, we risk excluding and not inspiring a generation of people from the many benefits offered by taking part in sports. The message is clear: those involved in the running of sport must do more to show their commitment to tackling homophobia and encouraging gay people to take part in sport."

Jonathan Ford, Football Association of Wales Chief Executive, added:

"There should be no barriers in sport whatsoever. Football should be all embracing; everyone should be able to, and encouraged to participate at whatever level. The environment for playing the game should be welcoming and comfortable. As an association part of our role is to break down the barriers wherever they exist; that is why we have actively supported the work being done by Sport Wales and Stonewall Cymru."

In a bid to address the issues highlighted in the research, Sport Wales, Stonewall Cymru and the FAW have instigated the formation of an LGBT Network, tasked with driving participation, support and equality, championing LGBT issues within sport and eliminating discrimination through the delivery of education and training.

Whilst being set-up by the aforementioned organisations, they are now calling for those with an interest in positively influencing the sporting landscape for LGBT communities to come forward and help develop an action plan to make sport in Wales accessible to, organised and accessed by a higher number of LGBT individuals.

For anyone interested in playing a role within the LGBT Network, you are invited to send your expressions of interest to lgbt@sportwales.org.uk by Friday 4th January 2013.

To read the full 'Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People in Sport: Understanding LGB sports participation in Wales' report, please visit www.sportwales.org.uk/lgbreport

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