A new charter that aims to increase gay and transgender people’s participation in sport has been launched today.
Scottish charity, Equality Network, who developed the 20-page document is seeking support from sports clubs and governing bodies to back the charter and tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying in Scotland.
The charity extends the call for everyone in sport to endorse the charter, including local authorities, leisure trusts, other sports facilities and local sports councils.
- Steps to actively involve LGBT people in sport and visibly support LGBT equality;
- A challenge to homophobic and transphobic (anti-transgender) behaviour and the creation of a “welcoming sporting environment” for LGBT participants;
- Greater inclusion of transgender people in sport by understanding their differing needs, and reducing barriers preventing them from taking part;
- Policies with better understanding of the barriers faced by LGBT people;
- Continuous improvements to increase LGBT involvement in sport.
The charter comes after recent reports that people in sports have suffered bullying after coming out.
Last month, Christopher Saynt, Scotland’s first openly gay wrestler, spoke out about the abuse he has received on several occasions on account of his sexual orientation. Sayint suggested that other gay wrestlers might be too afraid to come out.
In football the subject is still a big problem as so far there are no openly gay footballers in the UK’s top divisions despite many efforts and campaigns aiming to tackle homophobia in and out of the pitch.
Rugby, boxing and athletics are also sports showing resistance to gay athletes.
A report by Equality Network, 2012 Out for Sport, revealed that the main reasons why so few elite athletes were openly homosexuals are mostly because they are afraid to receive abuse from the spectators, the risk to potential damage to their career prospects and loss of earnings from sponsorship.
Equality Network development co-ordinator Scott Cuthbertson said: “The Scottish LGBT Sports charter is a visible commitment by those involved in the delivery of sport to take steps to address the issues and barriers LGBT people face, and to improve the involvement of LGBT people in Scottish sport.
“Sport has an important and positive role to play – in our communities, in our culture and in improving Scotland’s health.
“We understand more about the barriers that LGBT people face to full and inclusive sports participation than ever before, so now, by working together, making changes and involving LGBT people more, Scottish sport can be the truly transformative experience for everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Sports minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Equality was a central theme of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, with LGBT inclusion obvious in the opening ceremony, promoted by the flying of the rainbow flag from Scottish Government buildings, and further supported through the first Pride House at any Commonwealth Games.
“The Scottish Government is committed to building on these successes to challenge and remove the barriers to participation in sport, to promote equality of opportunity and to create a Scotland where the playing field is level for everyone.
“I welcome this Scottish LGBT Sports Charter, and believe that it will serve as a vital frame of reference for securing the full inclusion of LGBT people in sport.”
KaleidoScot notes that the charter did not include intersex people in sport, an issue that was brought up during the Commonwealth Games.