LGBTQI+ community in sport: it’s not enough to have a policy on paper

The “Stand up for equality – LGBTQI+ community in sport” webinar was initiated by the ENGSO Equality Within Sport Committee (EWS) to raise awareness on the exclusion, harassment and discrimination of the LGBTQI+ community in sport, and to highlight the importance and positive benefits of inclusion.


The webinar took place on Wednesday, 29 June 2022, and gathered more than 50 participants eager to learn more about the LGBTQI+ inclusion and current challenges the community is facing.


Moderated by the EWS Chair Sallie Barker, the webinar kicked off with a presentation of the role and work of the ENGSO EWS Committee.


Sarah Townsend, EGLSF Co-President and ENGSO EWS Committee member, introduced the study on LBTI women led by ENGSO and presented the work of the European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation.


The panel discussions included Amanda Bennet, Managing Director at FairPlay Ltd and Member of the Welsh Rugby Union Women’s Advisory Group, Brano Fidler, member of the Lotus Flowers Club in Bratislava, and Laura May, Policy officer at Center for Ethics in Sport.



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Amanda Bennet reflected on the past and recent developments and improvements towards a safer and a more welcoming sport environment, and shared good examples from the Rugby Union: “Today we have rainbow laces, recruitment campaigns that seek board members from LGBTQI+ community, we celebrate athletes.”


She also explained the business case for inclusion, with a focus on the UK and its Equality Standard for Sport (2004) , and all the benefits inclusive leadership brings to the organisations.


Bruno Fidler presented the work of the Lotus Flowers Club from Bratislava, the only officially registered LGBTQI+ club in Slovakia. He specifically highlighted that policies on paper are not enough, “We need to promote it, encourage people, we need public statements, representations, anti-discrimination policies, role models, famous athletes that would open up…”


Laura May emphasised the importance of reporting the discrimination and shared a good practice of the Belgium football club which set up a reporting point for the players and members to report the abuse.


“The way we organise sport today is not inclusive. There is a difference between saying “you are welcome” and actually making people feel welcomed.”


The webinar was concluded with a presentation of the EQUIP project’s Index of top policies and practices for building a more inclusive sport environment and concrete suggestions to make sport more inclusive:


Promote inclusion;


Educate people;


Run campaigns and be proactive;


Positive actions and role models;


Full integration and leadership that understands inclusion;


Report it. If you experience or witness the abuse and harassment, report it;


Make sure there is a safe reporting system for safeguarding within your organisation;


Encourage people to open up;


Anti-discrimination policies brought to life.


Making sure the sport movement does not decide alone but builds bridges and keeps the dialogue open.


The next webinar on LGBTQI+ inclusion in sport will take place on 7 September 2022 and focus on on the inclusion of people with sex and gender variation in sport.