English diver Tom Daley has called for more Commonwealth countries to decriminalise homosexuality.
Daley won his fourth Commonwealth Games gold medal as he and Dan Goodfellow won the synchronised 10m platform on the Gold Coast in Australia, where same-sex marriage was made legal in December.
Homosexuality remains illegal in 70% of the 53 Commonwealth countries.
“Coming to the Gold Coast and being able to live as an openly gay man is really important,” said Daley, 23.
“You want to feel comfortable in who you are when you are standing on that diving board, and for 37 Commonwealth countries that are here participating that is not the case.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Daley added: “I feel extremely lucky to compete openly as who I am, not worry about ramifications. But for lots of people living in those countries it is not the case.
“We have to talk about these things and shine a light on them in order to get change.
“By Birmingham and the next Commonwealth Games [in 2022], I really hope we see a decrease in that number of countries that criminalise LGBT issues.
“I feel with the Commonwealth, we can really help push some of the other nations to relax their laws on anti-gay stuff.”
The Commonwealth Games Federation has spoken about the event being inclusive and has Pride House on the Gold Coast to celebrate that.
Chief executive David Grevemberg responded to Daley’s comments by saying that the 2014 and 2018 Games have been “the most inclusive events in our movement’s history”.
At the Glasgow Games three-and-a-half years ago, actor John Barrowman kissed another man as part of the opening ceremony.
And Grevemberg pointed out that since then, the number of Commonwealth countries that where homosexuality is a criminal offence has dropped from 43.
“We hope that the Commonwealth Sports movement is playing a meaningful role in the wider global conversation around tolerance, empowerment and legal recognition for all,” he said.
Daley, who is expecting a child in June with husband Dustin Lance Black, will be competing in diving’s world series in May in Russia, where same-sex marriages are not recognised.
“I’ve got to be a husband on my visa,” said Daley. “Going to Russia can be scary – you’ve got to compete in front of lots of people who know I’ve got a husband.
“You have to face those things and try and make change.”
‘I have so much respect for Tom’
Helen Richardson-Walsh and her wife Kate were the first same-sex married couple to win Olympic gold when they triumphed in the hockey at Rio 2016.
“It makes such a difference for people to hear someone like him be so open and to be so out, it’s fantastic for people in this country where it’s accepted,” she told BBC Radio 5 live.
“Much more needs to be done across the world – I feel lucky that I grew up in an environment where I could be myself, in hockey and in sport.
“I have so much respect for Tom and what he’s said and it’s difficult sometimes to put yourself out there and put your head above the parapet in that sense and really stand up for what you believe in.”
Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is illegal
|Illegal but law not enforced|
|Kiribati||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Punished by imprisonment|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Papua New Guinea|
|Bangladesh||Saints Kitts and Nevis|
|Ghana||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Punished by death penalty|
* In Nigeria, northern states under Sharia – Islamic religious law – have the death penalty for people convicted of same-sex offences which in other states carry a 14-year jail term.