ENGSO EWS Committee releases results of study on LGBTQI+ experiences in sport in Europe

As part of ENGSO Equality in sport action plan, the Equality Within Sport (EWS) Committee has commissioned research on the state of equality within the European sport sector. The aim of the study was to collect up-to-date data that correlate with topics related to the LGBTQI+ community and its participation in sport. Here are some of the main findings.

Preliminary background research and analysis of existing studies helped to identify the four specific interests of this study:

  1. The participation of LGBTQI+ people in sport

  2. The legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic

  3. LBTQI+ women in sport

  4. Safe sport


You can download the individual factsheets with key numbers from the conducted research for each subtopic on the EWS page.


LGBTQI+ voices

      • During the EuroGames in the Netherlands, the research team interview athletes and collected more than 200 questionnaire answers. Here are some examples of what was heard:
      • “The social aspect might be the most important one and unfortunately, it is the least spoken about. Unfortunately, I missed this is childhood, because I should have played football, as every guy and I really sucked at that. It is now the first time I fit into a sport group.”
        “I prefer queer friendly sport activities. It is in such activities clear that you do not need to explain or justify yourself.”
        “A lot of LGBTQI people made bad experience with sport at school, which lasts their whole lives. Their bad experiences separate them and hides such positive sport experiences later in life, for mental and physical health.”
      • “Sport in general has a straight gender problem. If you can’t find a place in this predefined environment, it means that sport is not available to you.”

The study highlighted how the participation of LGBTQI+ community in sport could be used to counteract the social and physical distance and loneliness that was reported during the covid-19 pandemic by the LGBTQI+ sport community. It also stressed the importance of safeguarding measures and ensuring that sport offers a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community to practise sport in. Finally, the research enabled the EWS to receive valuable ideas about how to make sport more LGBTQI+ friendly.


(1)Through decision-making, by:


      • Choosing/electing boards and management positions in sport clubs carefully, recognising the importance of diverse representation and enabling equal opportunities apply and be elected;
      • Involving the target groups (athletes and coaches) in decision-making and specifically in decisions that affects LGBTQI+ friendly sport activities;
      • Making sure that each stakeholder (country/region/sport club) sets gender and sexual orientation equality a priority with considering all possibilities available.

(2) Through representation & education, by:

      • Working with media stakeholders to offer positive representation and promote participation of LBTQI women in sport and give voices to all genders equally;
      • Welcoming specifically LGBTQI+ people, for example by walking in pride as a sport club during pride parades, putting up the rainbow flag in front of the sports hall, etc., to increase sport participation rates in LGBTQI+ and welcome everybody;
      • Including education about gender diversity and sexual orientation at an early age and decide on a frame (place and time) for such educational activities and clear responsibilities so that it will not be forgotten.

(3) Through regular evaluation & monitoring of:

      • the existing anti-discrimination measures,
      • LGBTQI+ friendly sport activity with a focus on (gender) equality
      • the participation rate of LGBTQI+ community in sport

and by considering/implementing (new) actions to welcome everybody if the evaluation reveals weaknesses.


Download the full study here.


Note: After the initial literature search conducted in April 2022 by the commissioned researcher, Anne Schomöller from Germany, the data derived from an online questionnaire for athletes and from structured interviews with athletes that ENGSO EWS committee conducted in July – August 2022. The questionnaire was distributed in 13 languages (Albania, English, French, Finnish, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish). 186 athletes filled out the online questionnaire and 6 interviews were conducted with athletes during the EuroGames 2022 as well as online.

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