Homophobia blights sport and puts many gay people off from taking part from a young age, according to a charity.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people do not feel able to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in sports environments, research by the Equality Network has claimed.
Out For Sport, a report which has been launched by the charity at a conference in Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, shows 79% of 1,722 people surveyed think sport has a homophobia problem.
The report includes hundreds of personal accounts and says 62% of LGBT respondents have witnessed or experienced homophobia or transphobia in sport. The problem ranges from verbal and physical abuse which often goes unchallenged, to bullying and a general culture in which they do not feel able to open up.
Just 5% think enough is being done to tackle homophobia while 94% think Scottish sport would be better off without homophobia and transphobia. Almost three-fifths (57%) of LGBT people would be more likely to participate in sport if it was more LGBT-friendly.
The Equality Network has now called on the Scottish Government and sports bodies to take practical action and deal with the problem.
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.”
Sport minister Shona Robison said equality in sport is “very important” to the Scottish Government. “There should be no barriers to people participating in sport. The Out For Sport conference and the report raises some very important issues indeed and I want to reassure you that I will be looking at the recommendations,” she said.
Scott Cuthbertson, the charity’s community development co-ordinator, said: “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.”