More than half said they feared being openly gay would lead to bullying, while 37 per cent were worried about discrimination from coaches or officials.
Spectators also feared hostility, with 75 per cent of respondents saying gay or lesbian fans would not be safe at a sporting event.
Out on the Fields is the largest study of its kind, with nearly 9500 people of all ages across Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Britain and Ireland taking part.
The research was commissioned by the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 (the world cup of gay rugby) in partnership with a coalition of LGBTI and mainstream sporting organisations including the Federation of Gay Games.
The study paints an alarming picture of the experience of gays and lesbians on and off the field, with an astounding 80 percent of those surveyed either being a victim of or witnessing homophobia on the playing fields. The homophobia extended from verbal threats to physical assault.
The Commission’s Fair go, sport! project has been working to increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity in sport and promote safe and inclusive sporting environments since 2010.
The project team has collaborated with a number of state schools and sporting associations (Hockey, Basketball, Cycling, Football and Skate Victoria / Roller Derby) to develop a flexible model of engagement that can be adapted to other sporting codes and their governing bodies.
See our online resource, LGBTI Rights.