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Tom Daley announces LGBTQ+ rights documentary Illegal to Be Me

The Olympic diver will not compete in the Commonwealth Games, but is shining a light on some of its members' homophobic laws in a new BBC documentary.

Tom Daley – Tokyo 2020 Olympics diving Team GB
Published: Wednesday, 27th July 2022 at 7:00 pm
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The 2022 Commonwealth Games are set to take place in Birmingham this week, but one familiar face will be missing from Team GB's line-up.


Though diver Tom Daley won't be competing, the BBC has announced he will helm a one-hour film in which he shines a light on homophobia in the Commonwealth, which counts 56 member states. Currently, it's illegal to be gay in more than half.

In the documentary, the athlete will be travelling to some of the countries where homosexuality is a crime, and even punishable by death. Daley will speak to sportspeople facing persecution and advocates fighting for change, including Michael Gunning (the only openly gay athlete on Jamaica's team), Dutee Chand (India's first openly gay athlete), and swimmers Theresa Goh (Singapore) and Amini Fonua (Tonga).

Tom Daley and husband Dustin Lance Black

Speaking of the upcoming film, 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."

He added: "LGBT+ athletes must be safe and feel comfortable being their authentic selves without fear of persecution or death. The CGF has been willing to talk and willing to hear what we have to say, and it’s good to see they’ve started taking a stance towards more inclusion.

"Along with incredible LGBT+ people around the Commonwealth, we will make a difference. The Commonwealth Games Federation can be a shining example to other sporting organisations that sports really can be for everyone and with the pull power sports has, we can hopefully influence change to horrendous human rights laws that exist in so many countries around the world.”

Michael Jochnowitz, BBC Commissioning Editor, said: “It’s horrifying that whilst athletes proudly represent their country on the global stage they face persecution – or worse – back home, simply for being gay. Some of these fearless athletes tell us their stories thanks to Tom and his courageous efforts to tackle the issue head-on, and whose manifesto for change leads to an extraordinary and historic world first.”

Daley announced last month that he would not be competing at this year's Commonwealth Games after deciding to "have some time to rest and be with [his] family".

Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Tuesday 9th August at 9pm. For more news and recommendations, visit our Documentaries hub or plan your viewing with our TV Guide.


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