Sexuality and Gender Perspectives on Sports Ethics

Sexuality and Gender Perspectives on Sports Ethics
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, NSIC/Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission)
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Dr Caroline Symons, College of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University (May 2016) and Dr Gillian Fletcher, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 12 June 2019
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Unethical actions, decisions, and attitudes in a sporting context are in direct conflict with the ideals of sport. Ethical behaviour that is characterised by inclusion, fairness, and respect - regardless of someone’s known/assumed sexual identity or whether they are born or living as a male or female - is embedded in sporting values.

The International Olympic Committee has proclaimed that, 

Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. Olympic Charter (PDF  - 1.5 MB), International Olympic Committee, in force from 2 August 2016

Principle 6 under the ‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism’ states:

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Fundamental Principles of Olympism

Key Messages 


The practices of sporting organisations and participants exist within legal, ethical, and social contexts.


Australian sports have (generally) made a policy commitment to inclusive and anti-discriminatory practice. However, policy implementation can mean overcoming some personal, social, and cultural challenges.

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