A new report by a University of Otago researcher recommends New Zealand national sporting bodies should work towards adopting a policy of zero tolerance for homophobia and other discriminatory behaviour.
The report titled “Anti-homophobia and inclusion policies in New Zealand Sport Organisations”, reviewed how six national sporting bodies are addressing change policies in these areas.
The organisations are NZ Rugby, Netball New Zealand, Hockey New Zealand, New Zealand Rugby League, New Zealand Football, and New Zealand Cricket.
The report was based on workshops and interviews. The findings showed that homophobia was identified as an issue by most of the participating bodies and a number of them are starting to develop policies in this area.
It recommends that organisations adopt clear anti-discrimination and inclusion policies and education programmes, and that homophobia zero tolerance policies should cover players, coaches, administrators and fans.
The report also suggests that bodies should seek support from organisations such as Rainbow Tick and draw on work done by sport organisations in other countries when developing and implementing the policies.
Dr Shaw says it is vital to start early with education at schools, clubs, and youth sport.
“Young lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) athletes are far more likely to stay in the closet because of fear of bullying and discrimination than older athletes.”
Her report cites 2015 research showing that 81% of New Zealand’s gay sportsmen and 74% of lesbian sportswomen under the age of 22 reported being either partially or totally in the closet with their team-mates.
Dr Shaw says it came through strongly that the study participants showed genuine commitment and goodwill towards bringing about change around homophobia and inclusion within their organisations.