Researchers have welcomed a $25,000 grant for a study which will delve into the extent of homophobia in amateur and elite sport in Australia.

The online study, to be conducted in the coming months, will focus on the participation and experience of LGBT Australians in mainstream sports and will be conducted by researchers from Victoria University and the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS).

Government body Vic Health has kicked in $10,000 for the study -” the amount matched dollar-for-dollar by Victoria University and the remaining $5000 from the Outgames Legacy Fund. The research is thought to be the first empirical research of its kind in Australia.

Heading up the research from Victoria University, Dr Caroline Symons said she is excited about the grant which has been difficult to secure.

A lot of research has been done internationally, but there’s been a reluctance in Australia to fund research in this area, so we’ve started to get somewhere now, she said.

A fair bit has been done on sexism and promoting women and girls in sports and there has been a fair bit done on racism and involving people with disabilities, but there hasn’t been [a focus] on addressing homophobia in sport, it’s a silent topic.

Organiser of the 2009: Our Sporting Lives community forum held in Melbourne last weekend, Daniel Witthaus believes the reason for this stems from a wider, entrenched culture of homophobia which hasn’t been brave enough to tackle the masculine domain of both amateur and elite sports.

The reality is we still live in a homophobic world, even as we’ve made great strides, he said.
I think sport is a really interesting one because it’s like the last bastion. When people think of sport, unfortunately they just think about males in elite team sports so whenever people raise this issue, it becomes too hard as an issue. It’s almost the last place we have to venture in and get some gain; it’s not an easy thing.

One of the things we’re hoping is this research will be a strategic stepping stone so that funding bodies and decision makers can’t look at the Australian research and say, definitely there is no issue.

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