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Most gay sportsmen and women in Ireland 'verbally abused' on the pitch

A worldwide survey of homophobia in sport has results on Ireland.

Image: Shutterstock/Revel Pix LLC

A NEW SURVEY has revealed high levels of homophobia in Irish sport, with three-quarters of participants witnessing or experiencing the phenomenon.

Almost half believe that gay people are ‘not accepted at all’ or only ‘accepted a little’.

The results are contained in a new international survey, Out On The Fields, involving 9,500 sportsmen and women from Ireland, Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

This included 501 from Ireland, 115 of which were straight.

Worldwide, only 1% of people feel that gay people are “completely accepted” on the sporting field.

Some 19% of gay men and nine percent of lesbians surveyed said they had been “physically assaulted”, while 27% of gay men and 16% of lesbians said they were subject to verbal threats of harm.

In Ireland, some 83% of gay men and 89% of lesbians surveyed said they had received verbal slurs during sports like ‘faggot’ or ‘dyke’.

This includes those who are watching sports, with 82% saying that someone who is openly gay would not be safe watching a sporting event from the spectator stands.

The majority of those surveyed believe homophobia is more common in sporting culture than in the rest of Irish society.

This was the second-lowest level among those surveyed.

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Although not an academic study, the survey, which used data collected by sports market research firm Repucom, was reviewed by seven leading experts on homophobia in sport, including Caroline Symons from Melbourne’s Victoria University.

“Some LGB people can thrive in sport, but many others feel compelled to remain closeted to keep playing the sport they love, monitoring every word they say, to ensure they keep up the appearance of being heterosexual,” she said.

“All this effort to hide their identity can distract from enjoying their sport and improving their performance.”

Additional reporting by AFP.

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