There are at least 31 out LGBTQ Paralympians taking part in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo; believed to be a record number.
Outsports made the assessment by working with current and former Paralympians, fans and journalists to compile the list.
It only reflects those who are publicly out and so the true amount of LGBTQ athletes competing is likely much higher.
The website noted that its count of 31 LGBTQ Paralympians is double the number of those who competed in the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Outsports reported that most of the out athletes are from the United States (9) and Great Britain (9) but pointed out that this is “because those are where Outsports’ contacts are most-located.”
None are from Africa or Asia. The site counted only one man on the list and three non-binary or gender neutral athletes. The Games run until 5 September.
“The Paralympics by nature are a celebration of inclusion and equality, and the historic number of out LGBTQ athletes participating this year is something to celebrate,” commented Rich Ferraro, Chief Communications Officer at American LGBTQ media advocacy group, GLAAD. “LGBTQ people are more likely to live with disabilities and to face systemic discrimination on both fronts; the visibility brought by the Paralympics and its talented athletes helps fight that stigma.”
The recently completed Summer Olympic Games had the highest number of out LGBTQ athletes to participate in the Olympics, with a known 182 competitors.
The event also saw Canadian football player, Quinn become the first out transgender and non-binary sportsperson to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games.
Stonewall’s Director of Programmes, Liz Ward welcomed the increase in LGBTQ athletes who feel free to publicly be their true selves but argued that much more needs to be done to ensure a truly equal playing field.
Ward said that predominantly black women athletes have been restricted from competing in the Games for having natural testosterone levels that are deemed too high by sporting regulators.
The UK LGBTQ rights group’s research has also found that 4 in 10 people don’t think that sport is safe for LGBTQ people, which acts as a barrier to them taking part.
“The Olympics and Paralympics are a celebration of athleticism and formidable achievement, but as with all international sporting events, the dark undertones of exclusion sit just below the surface,” said Ward.