By JOLENE OGLE
SHOCKING survey results have highlighted wide-spread homophobia in Australian sport with 85 per cent of gay athletes having experienced or witnessed homophobic abuse.
The survey, Out on the Fields, reports more than half of gay and lesbian respondents as saying they have been the target of homophobic abuse, including verbal threats, ongoing bullying, deliberate exclusion from social groups, and verbal slurs, which are the most common forms of abuse.
Noosa Tigers’ captain Peter Trompf said it was unfortunate homophobic words and abuse were still prevalent in sport.
“In sport, someone’s sexuality should not even come into play,” he said.
“Unfortunately, words and terms that are no longer socially acceptable are still used in the sporting arena. Words that I’m sure would make a wide variety of people feel very belittled and un-welcome,” he said.
Trompf has called for a change in culture to remove the homophobic stigma associated with sports.
“As athletes, we need to change this culture and accept people based on their character – nothing else,” he said.
But it isn’t just gay athletes who face discrimination, the survey found one in four heterosexual men said they had been the personal target of homophobia.
Senior lecturer and researcher for Victoria University Dr Caroline Symons is studying homophobia in Australian sport and said it was common for heterosexual people to also experience abuse.
“Casual homophobic language such as jokes and humour is commonly accepted in Australian sports while gay slurs are often seen as a very demeaning way to insult someone, regardless of their sexuality,” she said.
The Out on the Fields survey is part of wider initiatives to tackle homophobia in sport including the historic commitment earlier this year by every major Australian sport to introduce policies to eliminate homophobia, and the coming Bingham Cup that will see 1000 gay players compete in the world cup of gay rugby in Sydney, next month.