Sunday, May 28, 2023

Commonwealth Games must do more for LGBT rights, says former swimmer

Commonwealth Games must do more for LGBT rights, says former swimmer

Michael Gunning calls for event to push for change after a ‘petrifying’ visit to his home country, Jamaica

The former Team GB swimmer Michael Gunning has called on the Commonwealth Games to do more to help improve LGBTQ+ rights in member countries as he talked of his “petrifying” experience visiting his home country, Jamaica, for the first time since he came out as gay.

Gunning, who retired from swimming earlier this year to help promote equality in sport, said the event could do more on the global stage to push the issue.

“I definitely think there’s more to be done. Moving forward, the Commonwealth Games can hopefully reach out to some very big organisations and governing bodies around the world and push for change,” said Gunning, who is an ambassador for Pride House, a safe space at international sporting events for LGBT athletes.

“These games can’t finish and that be the end of Pride House and all the conversations we’ve been having about this, it’s got to carry on.”

As part of Tom Daley’s documentary, Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me, about homophobia in Commonwealth countries, airing on the BBC next week, Gunning travelled to Jamaica to learn about the experiences of LGBT people in the country, where same-sex relationships are punishable by imprisonment, and vigilante beatings are tolerated.

“I was petrified to go back. I had to wear a bit of a disguise because I didn’t want anyone to see me as the Jamaican international swimmer who shouldn’t be representing his country because of his sexuality,” said Gunning, who has dual nationality and has represented both Great Britain and Jamaica in his career.

“I got so many comments from people saying I bring shame on the country and that I should have carried on representing Great Britain. That was so hard to hear, so to go back, I was really scared about what people would say. I just tried to keep my head down.”
Gunning said he used to visit his home country “two or three times a year to visit family”, but since he came out as gay in 2018 he had never returned.

“I knew that returning with Tom [Daley], we could really make a difference and get to the root of what was happening out there,” he said. “I’m really happy I went and faced those battles. I’ll definitely go out more again to help try to create that change.”

Gunning has swum in two world championships and broken Jamaican national records in freestyle and butterfly, but decided to step back from swimming in May to help “make sport equal for all”.

Instead of competing at this year’s Commonwealth Games, he is presenting inhouse at Sandwell aquatics centre and helping to support athletes through Pride House.

Out of the 56 Commonwealth member states, 35 outlaw homosexuality, and Gunning said he understood how “absolutely terrifying” it was representing a country where it was illegal to be yourself.

“I feel as if you’re always waiting for somebody to make a comment, or you’re anxious about making the team and wondering if you’ll still go as far in your career as you hope to,” he said. “You always have that fear in your mind.

“Even now I’m hosting in front of 2,500 spectators from all different countries and I’m a bit anxious about how I might be perceived because I know not everyone will like me for who I am and my sexuality.

“I just really feel for the athletes and that’s why I’m pushing it so much. I really want to try to pave the way for future athletes so it isn’t an issue in the future.”


Related Articles

If you donated to BLM, you got played
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Saudi Arabia and Canada Restore Diplomatic Relations
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Last Walmart in North Portland Closing Down
Florida's DeSantis seeks to disqualify judge in Disney case
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Disney has canceled plans to build a new campus in Florida worth almost $1 billion
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
King Charles III being crowned.
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Discuss Migration, Defence, and Ukraine
Tucker Carlson is back, soon!
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
US Congresswoman threaten Twitter Files journalist with arrest
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh slams New York Times' pro-government stance and treatment of sources
Enough is enough: it's time to end the war in Ukraine. While Russia may be to blame for starting it, Russia is not the one refusing to stop it
Fox News Settles their case with Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 MILLION
The land of the free violence
Speaker Kevin McCarthy
21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira has been arrested for leaking classified Pentagon Documents
The Supreme Court will allow a 12-year-old transgender West Virginia girl to compete on her middle school’s girls' sports teams amid a lawsuit over a ban
Iran and Saudi Arabia hold first diplomatic talks in seven years, brokered by China
Bank of America cuts short conference after outrage at Ukraine comments
Mitt Romney calls Trump indictment 'overreach,' says charges were 'stretched' to suit a 'political agenda'
The G-7 aims to make global crypto regulations tougher
Russia arrested an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal on espionage charges
Don’t Dismiss China’s Peacemaking Bid