LGBTQ and Sports in Finland
Although awareness on LGBTQ rights is becoming increasingly prevalent in the Finnish public sphere, the topic is still often avoided in the world of sports. Locker room culture, pre-game trash talk and schools’ PE classes often convey rigid gender norms, and particularly in men’s sports world heteronormativity and restricted ideas of masculinity are still unfortunately prevalent.
Some Finnish pro-athletes that have come out in recent years and sparked awareness and discussion on the topic include hockey player Janne Puhakka, swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen and boxer Elina Gustafsson, while shot putter and powerlifter Vera Räsänen is so far the only Finnish transathlete in publicity. In order to promote equality in sports and physical education, the Finnish National Sports Council (an expert panel assisting the Ministry of Culture and Education) has its own section for non-discrimination, equality and sustainable development. The Ministry is also currently funding the PREACT project, which aims to promote equal access and tackle discrimination against gender and sexual minorities by informing policy and practice on how to facilitate safe sports environments for all. Meanwhile the Finnish LGBTIQ sports club HOT in the Helsinki region has since 1997 represented athletes from all skill levels belonging to gender and sexual minorities.