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Discrimination, harassment and bullying

Discrimination, harassment and bullying

Every person in play, active recreation and sport, in every role, has the right to participate in an environment that is fun, safe and healthy, and to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness.

Clubs and organisations should provide an environment where people are treated fairly and equitably and free from any form of discrimination. Members, participants, and the community won’t be able to enjoy themselves or perform at their best if they are treated unfairly, discriminated against or harassed. Clubs and organisations also run the risk of losing their members and volunteers if people feel they haven’t been treated fairly.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is when you're treated worse than someone else in the same or a similar situation. Discrimination will be illegal if it’s covered by the Human Rights Act 1993 Act – for example if you are discriminated because of your race or country of origin, or your gender identity or your sexual orientation – and if it happens in an area of public life covered by those laws.

As well as making discrimination illegal in many cases, the anti-discrimination laws specifically ban sexual and racial harassment, and they also ban people from ‘inciting racial disharmony’.

What is harassment?

Harassment means unwelcome behaviour that is offensive, humiliating or intimidating and is either repeated, or of such significant nature, that it has a detrimental effect on the person, their performance, contribution or their environment.

Unwelcome behaviour can be harassment even if the recipient doesn’t tell the other party or parties that their behaviour is unwelcome – and even if there is no intention to offend, humiliate or intimidate. It could even include gossip, jokes, teasing or the use of inappropriate nicknames.

What is bullying?

Bullying is deliberately hurting a specific person either physically, verbally, psychologically or socially. Bullying can occur both in and outside the area of sport or activity and can involve participants, parents, organisers, volunteers, coaches, spectators or officials. It is prohibited by most organisations under their Code of Conduct and can result in penalties and punishments being applied. Some forms of bullying constitutes assault, harassment or discrimination.

All activities and sports should promote their organisation as one that will not allow or tolerate bullying and develop Codes of Conduct and a policy that addresses bullying behaviours, such as a Bullying and Harassment Policy. Good member protection policies address a range of inappropriate behaviours including discrimination, harassment and abuse and provide a complaints process for dealing with incidents. These policies can also provide a complaints handling process so organisations can deal with incidents of bullying in a practical manner that is consistent with other inappropriate behaviour.

In an activity/sport context, bullying can take many forms, for example:

  • several people ganging-up on an individual team/group member
  • spectators verbally abusing participants from the opposition
  • a participant calling a referee names and using put-downs
  • a parent intimidating a young coach/supervisor.


Preventing Bullying and Harassment Policy
Preventing Discrimination Policy
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy

More member protection guidance

If you require an accessible version of any content on the site please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

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