The Outsport Network and the MESIS project

The Outsport staff in Sofia in summer 2023 for the MESIS project

Funded by the European Union and the Erasmus+ program, Outsport was the first European research project specific to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in sports. In this page you can find information about the original project and partnership (2017-2019), the final Outsport outcomes and the follow ups.

On November 2020, Outsport’s Coordinator AiCS – Associazione Italiana Cultura Sport – launched the Outsport Network, as a follow up of the Outsport project. 

The Outsport Network is part of the AiCS LGBTI sector and is a place for sharing best practices and encouraging new partnerships across Europe in the field of Sport, SOGI issues, education and inclusion. In the last years the Outsport Network implemented international webinars, participated in valuable projects as SGS (Sport for all Genders and Sexualities) and achieved the important recognition by the World health Organization.

Main Outsport follow up is now the MESIS project, started in 2023. 


Rosario Coco – rosario.coco@out-sport.eu

Andrea Giuliano – info@out-sport.eu


Conclusion of the Outsport project (2017 – 2019)

The Outsport final Conference

The 8th of November 2019, the Outsport Final Conference took place in Budapest. It was the final step of a 3 years-long innovative and challenging project co-financed by the European Commission through the Erasmus Plus program on “Innovative and educational approaches to prevent violence and tackle discrimination in sport based on sexual orientation and gender identity”. The project was coordinated by AICS (Italian Association for Culture and Sport) with key partners from Scotland(LEAP sports), Germany (German Sport University, Cologne), Austria (VIDC) and Hungary (Frigo).

Gabor Lazlo (Frigo) with Niedermuller Péter, the newly-elected mayor of Budapest 7th district

The participants received welcome and greetings by Péter Niedermüller, the newly-elected mayor of the 7th district of Budapest.

Opening the works of the conference, Marisa Fernández Esteban, Deputy Head of the Sport unit, Directorate-General for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the European Commission. “We have a mandate to create a new dimension of sport, as it is time to stop considering it as mere competition. Social innovation and inclusion are among the main virtues of sport, and projects like these need and deserve our support.    

Addressing homophobia and transphobia in sport through scientific research, communication and training can really help us create more resilient and inclusive societies. Also, this pedagogical approach can help in the creation of other projects that strive to find new educational tools to be used against exclusion, hatred, racism and discrimination.”

Final Outcomes: the research

During the conference, the two main Outsport outcomes have been presented:

1) Final Report on the EU-wide research on the experiences of LGBTI people in sport coordinated by the German Sport University of Cologne. It is now available on our website www.out-sport.eu, and contains the aggregated data results at EU level, highlighting the differences regarding sexual orientation and gender identity between the five project countries (Italy, Germany, Scotland, Hungary and Austria) and all the other EU member states, exposing a rich and wide perspective of anti-LGBTI attitudes in sport and in different sport disciplines and environments, as lived and perceived by LGBTI people.

More than 5,500 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from all 28 EU countries completed the online survey. Almost 90% of respondents consider homophobia and particularly transphobia in sport a current problem. 20% refrain from participating in a sport of interest due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 16% of respondents who are currently active in any sports have had at least one negative personal experience in the last 12 months that was related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The share is higher among trans people – especially among trans women (46%).

Based on these survey findings, umbrella organisations and federations from the 5 projects countries have been interviewed about their strategies in tackling homo-/transphobic discrimination in the field of sport. These data have been used to produce 5 specific focus booklets for each country (Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Scotland) with local highlights and recommendations to their national sport institutions.


Final Outcomes: the Toolkit


Foldi Lazlo, Training of Trainers expert

2) A pedagogical toolkit to address LGBTI inclusion in and through sport. Outsport aims to promote a new inclusive training approach: apart from contrasting homophobia and transphobia in sport, Outsport strives to make sport a tool to educate against any form of exclusion and a chance to develop social competencies in continuity with the school. On this front, the second main outcome is the publication of the Training Toolkit, a manual for those working in sport and education with exercises and practices tested during the project and based on the Non-Formal Education through Sport methodology (moveandlearn.org).

All partner organizations and participants activists agreed on the importance of introducing a specific focus in the next European Work Plan for Sport – contrasting homo-transphobia and gender stereotypes. This would also enhance the debate on “gender equality”.

Concrete policies on SOGI discrimination in sport could be very useful to contrast homo-transphobia and gender stereotypes.

Outsport recommendations

In accordance with the first guiding objective of the current EU Work Plan for Sport, “to ensure, through cross-sectoral cooperation, the awareness of other EU policy domains of the contribution that sport can make in meeting the policy challenges facing the EU” project partners recommend the Working Party on Sport of the Council of the European Union: a) to include LGBTI issues and SOGI discrimination in the guiding objectives of the next EU Work Plan for Sport; b) to promote the enhancement the existing sport education programs with trainings on SOGI discrimination and LGBTI rights issues; c) to open up a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders (EU and COE Institutions, associations, NGOs) who can contribute to the development of such policies. 

Outsport coordinator, Rosario Coco commented: “After the project results these recommendations are a key political challenge in order to produce a concrete impact on European sport policies from grassroots to professional levels”.

The partners finally agreed on the importance of giving continuity to the work on this topic launching next objectives and new follow-up strategies. In particular, it was considered strategic to develop the scientific part of the project to deepen the knowledge of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in Europe, but also to obtain a dynamic picture of the phenomenon and the impact policies have on it.

The training toolkit, booklets, pictures and more from the final conference are available on our website at the following link.


First Outsport description ( June 2017)


What’s Outsport?


The Outsport project – “Innovative and educational approaches to prevent violence and tackle discrimination in sport based on sexual orientation and gender identity” – is co-financed by the European Commission through the Erasmus Plus program. The project seeks to address homophobia and transphobia in sport through communication, awareness raising, training and scientific research while using sport itself as a tool.

Outsport is the first initiative at European level to gather scientific evidence on the phenomena of homophobia and transphobia in sport, and to set for itself the ambitious aim of enhancing the sportsworld as a place of training and contrasting discrimination in continuity with school and family. The project is led by AICS, Italian Association for Sports and Culture.


Outsport involves five European countries: Italy, Scotland, Germany, Austria and Hungary.

The project partners are: LEAP (LEAP Sports Scotland), DSHS (Deutsch Sporthochschule Köln – the German Sport University Cologne, Institute of Sociology and Gender Studies), VIDC (Fonds wiener Institute für Internationalen Dialog und Zusammenarbeit – the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation), FRIGO (Friss Gondolat Egyesület – Organization for Fresh Ideas).


Our main goals

  • Raise awareness about discrimination in sport based on sexual orientation and gender identity through information and awareness-raising campaigns
  • Improve good governance in sport (organisations) specifically in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity discriminations
  • Foster capacity-building and education against intolerance and discrimination
    for coaches and staff of the organisation by developing a training toolkit for sport operators to promote an innovative approach to tackle hate crime and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in sport.
  • Promote sport itself as a tool for the prevention of discrimination, bullying and hate-crime based on sexual orientation
    and gender identity
  • Encourage social inclusion and raise equal opportunities in sport organisations
    by supporting the implementation of EU strategies
  • Developing and proposing new guidelines concerning LGBTI rights into the next EU Work Plan for Sport, which shall be based on the principles of the EU Gender Equality Strategy and the other legal basis of the EU.


Our Research

The German Sport University Cologne will lead the first European research on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in sport. The first objective is to collect reliable data about the experiences of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity of LGBTI athletes in different fields of sport in Europe.

The second aim is to explore the role of relevant stakeholders in the field of sport in tackling discrimination and homophobia in sport. The results of the research will be presented by the end of 2018. The first research ever conducted about this topic was published in 2015 in Australia. It involved a research population composed of gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual people living in Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. Among various results, 82% of participants experienced episoded of discrimination. Furthermore, over 50% of interviewees reported verbal and/or physical abuse, while 28% of the involved heterosexual population declared having been personally involved in discrimination episodes based on homophobic prejudice.


Outsport’s priority is to provide a new inclusive approach: Outsport won’t only tackle homobitransphobia in sport, but also sport as a tool for inclusion through education. In this respect, the project will continue in 2019 with the publication of the Training Toolkit for sports staff, a handbook containing new methodologies based on the ETS (Education Through Sport) method.


LGBTI people and sport

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people obviously have the same sports skills heterosexual people have.

Unfortunately, sexism and homo/bi/transphobia affect sport just like any other social space.  That’s why, according to the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA, 2014), 42% of 90.000 LGBTI people interviewed throughout Europe do not consider sports clubs as places where they can be openly LGBTI.  Many LGBTI people do not feel safe, accepted, or comfortable in the sports environment. This leads to a higher abandonment rate of sporting activities by LGBTI people with both short and long-term effects on their well-being.

An LGBTI friendly sport World is a better World for everybody

Any environment that is homo/bi/transphobic, sexist and in whatever way hostile to diversity and LGBTI people restricts freedom of expression and everybody’s chances to give their real best in and out of the field. This situation can affect relationships between teammates and/or coaches, staff, fans and families and the whole team can lose opportunities.

Homo/bi/transphobia can affect anybody.

In sports, even the best players, champions and coaches can become victims and can leave a team where they don’t feel safe, accepted, respected or included. This can leave longlasting effects on their well-being and can also greatly damage the rest of the team.





AICS – Rosario Coco (Coordinator) – info@out-sport.eu –  Andrea Maccarrone press@ou-sport.eu (Press office)

DSHS – Tobias Menzel – outsport@dshs-koeln.de

VIDC – Nikola Staritz – fairplay@vidc.org

LEAP – Andrew Marshall – andrew@leapsports.org

FRIGO – Marton Milkovics – milkovicsmarton@gmail.com 

AICS (Coordinator)

Associazione Italiana Cultura Sport (Italian Association for Culture and Sports)


Deutsch Sporthochschule Köln (German Sport University Cologne, Institute of Sociology and Gender Studies)


Sport Scotland Leadership, Equality and Active Participation


Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation)


Friss Gondolat Egyesület (Organisation for Fresh Ideas)

+39 06 4203941