A research team led by Victoria University has been honoured by VicHealth for a report on the experiences of gays and lesbians in community sport.
Dr Caroline Symons and her team from VU and Latrobe University received the Professor David Hill Award for Knowledge and Translation at VicHealth's annual awards ceremony in Melbourne on Wednesday evening.
Their report, Come Out To Play, identified barriers to participation and acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender participants in community sport in Victoria.
Their research received widespread media attention when it was released earlier this year with findings that 42% of those surveyed had experienced verbal homophobia and almost half remained closeted in their sporting clubs.
Dr Symons said the award meant a lot to the team because it signalled the end to the silence that has surrounded homophobia in sport in Australia.
"The sporting world in Australia has been reticent to address discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and that affects access to and enjoyment of community and elite sport," Dr Symons said.
"It's time the sporting codes extended their excellent programs to tackle racism and sexism to promote equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people."
VicHealth chief executive Todd Harper said the category for Knowledge and Translation – named in honour of outgoing Cancer Council Director Professor David Hill – was hotly contested.
"Every year, VicHealth invests millions in research projects, but what made Come Out To Play emerge as our winner, was how the work Caroline and her team utilised strong research capabilities to put the spotlight on a very challenging issue," he said.
"We hope that this important piece of work inspires further investigation, so we can boot homophobia out of sports once and for all."
The VicHealth award is the second for the groundbreaking study, which is the first to examine discrimination faced by the GLBT community in Australian sport. In June the team received an award for the most outstanding contribution to sport from the GLBTI community from the ALSO Foundation.
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