Homophobia and Sexuality in Sport 

Unfair treatment based on someone’s sexuality – or assumptions about their sexuality – is discrimination and has no place in any sporting or recreation environment.

Many sports have now made it unacceptable to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or for spectators to vilify people with homophobic abuse at games, just as they have done for racial, gender and disability-based vilification and discrimination.

But the fact is, homophobia in sport still exists at all levels. And when homophobia is allowed to exist as standard practice in something as mainstream and everyday as sport, it marginalizes gay people and tells them ‘you don’t belong here’. There needs to be a collective effort from all to address this issue. 

What can you do?

Play by the Rules has assembled a range of articles, videos, tools and education resources to help create awareness of gay, lesbian and bisexual issues in sport. Check out the following:

  • In 2015 Play by the Rules launched the You Can Play campaign to address homophobia in sport issues. It features a host of sports stars with the simple message ‘regardless of sexuality, if you can play, you can play’. Check out our Videos section and download any of our videos for use on your own website. 


  • There are many more You Can Play videos featuring sports administrators and advocates you might find useful on our YouTube Channel – http://youtube.com/playbytherulessport
  • In late 2015 Play by the Rules and Active Canberra hosted the You Can Play Forum - a live event hosted by SBS presenter Anton Enus and featuring a panel of experts to discuss issues of homophobia and sexuality discrimination in Australian sport. A recording of the Forum - broken down into four parts - can be seen in the first video below and click on the playlist button in the top left corner to view the remaining videos.
  • The Anti-homophobia Inclusion Framework for Australian Sport contains guidance on how sports can implement policies based on key pillars and action areas. Five of the major sporting codes in Australia have committed to creating such policies in 2014
  • Our Interactive scenario’ on Homophobia and Sexuality Discrimination provides: myths and stereotypes about homosexuality; the rights and responsibilities of club administrators, coaches and players in relation to sexuality issues in sport; and the actions administrators can take to provide positive leadership.
  • Download a comprehensive fact sheet on ‘Sexuality and homophobia in sport’.
  • Our Templates section includes a Member Protection Policy and Code of Conduct, which outlines points to consider regarding homophobia in sport.
  • Also see the powerful and moving story of Gus Johnston, a young man passionate about his hockey (who played for Victoria and over 202 State League One games for the Essendon Hockey Club). Gus has shown courage and leadership off the pitch by producing a video to highlight his personal challenges and experiences in relation to his sexuality, and the homophobia he witnessed in his time in the sport.



Research on homophobia in sport

Caroline SymonsYou might be interested to understand a bit more about the homophobia in sport. So, we've interviewed Caroline Symons, Associate Professor in the College of Sport & Exercise Science at Victoria University. Carolyn has done some significant research on the issue.


(1) What is homophobia?

(2) What is the sport environment like for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people?

(3) What are the experiences of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people in sport?

(4) Are there safe and inclusive sporting environments of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people in sport?

(5) What practical actions can sports administrators take to make GLBT people feel included and safe?


What the athletes say

Peter Van MiltenburgPeter Van Miltenburg is a former Australian sprinter who specialized in the 200 metres. Here, we ask Peter some questions to get an athletes perspective on homophobia.



(1) What challenges do lesbian, gay and bisexual people face in sport and what would help them feel safer and more included?

(2)  What issues have you faced in your sporting career?

(3) Reflecting on your experiences what advice would you give gay athletes?

(4) What are the main challenges you have faced as a gay coach and how have you dealt with these?

(5) Did you feel that you needed to take any special measures to keep yourself safe in your role as a coach?

(6) What practical actions can sports administrators take to make lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel included and safe?

(7) If you are a coach and you observe homophobic attitudes or behavior what actions would you take?

(8) What advice would you give to an athlete if they are being discriminated against?

(9) What are the features of a safe welcoming and inclusive club?