Tom Daley will explore LGBT+ rights across the commonwealth in a new film for BBC Factual.
Tom Daley: Illegal To Be Me will see Olympic gold medallist and double World Champion diver Tom Daley investigate an issue he cares about deeply.
Daley will travel to some of the Commonwealth’s most homophobic countries to see what the sporting world could do to change things.
Thousands of athletes are about to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but some of these competitors are unable to live their life freely and are in constant fear of the brutality they face inside the countries they represent.
It is illegal to be gay in over half of the 56 member states that are part of the Commonwealth.
The punishments for being gay include whipping, life imprisonment and even death.
Daley will visit countries such as Pakistan, where homosexuality carries a maximum penalty of death-by-stoning and Jamaica, where the penalty is 10 years in prison with hard labour.
Speaking to Daley under the protection of anonymity, top male and female sportspeople talk about their experiences facing discrimination and persecution.
The athletes will talk about their own devastating stories and reveal the danger and violence gay and lesbian athletes face if their sexuality is discovered.
Daley also discusses his own experiences competing in countries where homosexuality is illegal and what the Commonwealth Games Federation needs to do to keep athletes safe and instigate wider change.
Across the Commonwealth, Daley meets advocates who are vocally supportive of LGBT+ rights.
Including the only openly gay athlete on Jamaica’s national team, swimmer Michael Gunning, India’s first openly gay athlete, sprinter Dutee Chand, Singaporean swimmer Theresa Goh and Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua.
Talking to LGBT+ experts Bisi Alimi from Nigeria and Carla Moore from Jamaica, Daley learns about the colonial legacy that led to the criminalisation of homosexuality and the harmful impact slavery has had on many countries’ attitudes to LGBT+ people.
To foster lasting change, Daley will submit a manifesto of action points to the Commonwealth Games Federation, which will include points from LGBT+ people from across the Commonwealth.
Back in the UK Daley will be the final baton-bearer in the Queen’s Baton Relay during the opening ceremony.
He will be joined by some of the athletes and advocates he met on his journey, and for the first time ever, the Progress Pride flag (which symbolises inclusion) will be on display.
This will see the 2022 Commonwealth Games take a firm stance against homophobia.
Tom Daley said: “I’ve experienced homophobia all my life, competing in countries where it’s illegal to be me and where I don’t feel safe to leave the venue I’m competing in. If I feel like that as a privileged man, I can’t imagine what day-to-day life is like for LGBT+ people around the Commonwealth.
“So along with some of these inspirational people, we’re working on a campaign that we wanted to be more than just something you see in a documentary that you watch for an hour and then move on. We wanted it to be something that actually makes a difference.”
Tom Daley: Illegal To Be Me will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Tuesday 9th August at 9pm.