The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) recognises the importance of tackling homophobia and has formed an important partnership with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) to address homophobic attitudes and behaviour in sport.

ASC Sports Performance and Development Assistant Director Nadine Cohen said that a recent national survey of same-sex attracted young people identified that the second-most threatening environment for abuse was within sport.

“To address these concerns, the ASC and the VEOHRC are trialling a 12 month anti-homophobia project to reduce the experience and impact of homophobia in a national sporting code, which will form the benchmark strategy for other sporting codes and their governing bodies,’ Cohen said.

‘We are working with the VEOHRC to effect cultural and behavioural change in sport across many areas including bullying and harassment, player well-being and discrimination, with a focus on addressing homophobia.’

VEOHRC’s Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke said the project will aim to saturate one sporting code with a range of resources and information and capacity-building materials to address the issue of homophobia in sport.

 ‘In the general sense, we understand sport is a very powerful vehicle to reach the population, to educate and empower, to enable people’s voices to be heard.’

The project will determine effective ways to create safe and welcoming sporting environments through the prevention of homophobic behaviour. It will also establish how these strategies can be adapted to reduce the occurrence of other discriminatory barriers to sport participation.

‘The ASC is committed to partnering with the sport industry to uphold the principles of fairness, respect, responsibility and safety. Being a part of promoting IDAHO and working with the VEOHRC are some of the initiatives the ASC is focusing on to maximise participation of all Australians in sport, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender,’ Cohen said.