Disturbing Report Shows Scottish Sports Is Rife With Homophobia

 We often talk about homophobia in sports here in the US be it pro, college, high school or even local but to this writer’s knowledge a formal report on the subject has never been done (please correct me if I’m wrong with a link to such a study in the comment section) as now has by the Equality Network in Scotland.

The report found there are no openly gay professional “footballers” in the UK and very few open sports personalities. The same can be said for many other countries including our own, however the number of pros and even college who are out are very slowly on the rise, with even some on US Olympic teams who will compete next month in London. And there are an ever increasing number of “straight” advocates in US sports who have spoken out for a variety of LGBT issues including same-sex marriage. But for many particularly pros it is easier to come out after retirement or leaving a sports venue than while in.

Throw into the mix some well known sportscasters and writers who have kicked open the “closet door” in recent years, show at least for some being open is not as great a negative factor as they have may once feared in regards to career. 

While things may be a bit better here in the US with plenty of room to improve, the Equality Network report shows a very disturbing trend that homophobia and transphobia is wide-spread in Scotland thus preventing many LGBTs from participating in sports openly.

According to GayStarNews which is the source for this article (and which has a PDF link to the study) The culture of homophobia and transphobia across Scottish sports causes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to shy away from participating even at school. As adults many feel they are unable be open about their sexuality or gender identity in sporting environments

A very detailed survey used for the report had over 1700 participants and also conducted one-on-one interviews with more than 90 people who recalled incidents of homophobic abuse both physical and verbal.

Scott Cuthbertson who is the Community Development Coordinator for the Equality Network told GayStarNews, “The Equality Network report reveals for the first time the true extent of homophobia and transphobia that exists in Scottish sport.

‘We now know that prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is a significant problem that blights Scottish sport, but we also know that currently little to no specific action is being taken to tackle the problem.

‘Scotland doesn’t want a lost generation of future sports stars and that is why today we are calling on the Scottish government and sports bodies to listen to the evidence, demonstrate visible leadership and commit to taking practical action to address this issue.”

Some Scottish officals interviewed in a video for the Equality Network (and quoted in the GayStarNews article) responded in part as follows to the report.

Shona Robison, Scotland’s sports minister, said the issue is ‘very important’ to the Scottish government and pledged she ‘will be looking at the recommendations and will work… to make sure those issues are addressed.’

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: ‘Homophobia and making jokes about people’s sexuality is not just unacceptable but begins to affect the rights and abilities of young people to be involved in sport.’

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: ‘In this year of the Olympics, with the Ryder Cup, with the Commonwealth Games in just a couple of years, it’s really important that we set the foundations of anti-discrimination so that people from all backgrounds can take part in a sport that they choose without feeling intimidated or discriminated against.’

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: ‘Sport should be about bringing people together, not creating dividing lines. There should be no place for homophobic bullying on the field of play in Scotland.’

Scottish Green party co-convener Patrick Harvie said: ‘Like a lot of LGBT people, I grew up with the assumption that sport, PE classes at school and sporting culture was not going to be a welcoming environment for me to be in.

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About Lyndon Evans
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