'"We are a sport for all Australian's" : exploring the non-performativity of institutional speech acts around LGBTI+ diversity in Australian sporting organisations'

Authors: Storr, R., Parry, K. and Kavanagh, E.

Start date: 23 May 2018

LGBTI+ rights have been widely discussed in Australian society. The recent postal survey surrounding marriage equality has meant that many Australian sporting organisations have made public ‘institutional speech acts’ (Ahmed, 2012) surrounding their commitment to LGBTI+ diversity. This paper explores the non-performativity of several leading Australian sports organisations’ institutional speech acts and their commitment to LGBTI+ diversity. Specifically, we draw upon the work of Ahmed (2012; 2017) and Cunningham (2008; 2011a; 2011b; Melton & Cunningham, 2014) to inform our analysis. This paper reports on social media and policy analyses of several leading Australian sporting organisations and their public support and institutional commitment for LGBTI+ diversity. Our analysis reveals that the claims made by several sporting organisations around their institutional commitment to LGBTI+ diversity have not been supported with actions. The disjuncture is particularly apparent when national benchmarking criteria, such as the Pride in Sport Index are considered. This paper argues that leading sports organisations in Australia are playing ‘institutional catch up’ (Ahmed, 2012) regarding their commitment to LGBTI+ diversity. Here, there are distinct differences between what the institution says they do, and what they actually do. We argue that a lack of institutional commitment to LGBTI+ diversity is displayed through ‘non-performative institutional speech acts’ (Ahmed, 2006; Bury, 2015). The speech acts are not supported by deeds and have no impact, and serve to contradict the public commitment to LGBTI+ diversity. We conclude by contending that if sports organisations are to score better on the Pride in Sport Index, they must start to enact policies which seek to make their sport more inclusive for LGBTI+ Australians across all levels of sport.

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