Research published today by the Equality Network in Scotland reveals that homophobia and transphobia in Scottish sport is widespread and stops LGBT people from participating.
The report, called Out for Sport and launched today at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, revealed that there are no openly gay professional footballers in the UK, and very few openly LGBT sports personalities in any sport in Scotland.
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.
This was further corroborated by the finding that 79% of all people surveyed by the report though there is a problem with homophobia in sport.
The report reveals hundreds of accounts of people who experienced or witnessed incidents of homophobia and transphobia, ranging from verbal to physical abuse which often went unchallenged.
And 62% of LGBT people indicated they had personally witnessed or experienced homophobia or transphobia in sport.
Only 5% of all the people surveyed think enough is currently being done to tackle the problem in Scotland.
The detailed research included a comprehensive survey of 1,722 people, and over 90 one-to-one interviews.
The problem is ‘damaging for sport, bad for LGBT people, and bad for society,’ with ‘little or no specific action’ being taken by Scottish sports bodies or the government to tackle the problem, researchers say.
The report further concluded that with the Olympics being held in the UK this year, and the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow in 2014 ‘now is an ideal time to send the message that there is no place for prejudice or discrimination in Scottish sport’.
Scott Cuthbertson, Community Development Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: ‘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.’
The Equality Network hopes to work closely with the Scottish government and sports bodies in the weeks and months ahead to tackle the problem.
The report makes 10 recommendations that the Equality Network believe would help tackle the problem, including demanding a public awareness campaign and a visible commitment to tackling the problem from the Scottish government and sports bodies.
They also want diversity training on sexual orientation and gender identity with sports teachers and coaches.
And they call for zero tolerance towards homophobic and trasnphobic behaviour by athletes and spectators.
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.
‘It’s essential that we challenge that assumption so that the next generation of young Scots don’t grow up thinking that sport will be a place where homophobia and transphobia are natural, they need to be challenged.’
See Scottish leaders expressing their support for the report and its findings here: