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Paralympic world champion calls for LGBTQ+ acceptance in sport: ‘We can change things’

"It's still complicated to find athletes who really take a stand on these subjects"

By Emily Maskell

Marie Patouillet selfie and image of them in cycling gear
Marie Patouillet hopes Paris 2024 Olympics unites athletes. (Image: Instagram/@marie_patouillet)

World champion para-cycling athlete Marie Patouillet has spoken out about the need for public pushback against LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, the 35-year-old Frenchwoman remarked she hoped the games would unite athletes.

The vocal LGBTQ+ activist told Reuters: “Anybody can do sport, can even dream of high-level sport.”

“On top of that, I also want to show that we can change things,” she added.

The outlet detailed that she has a poster in her apartment that reads: ”Dykes are family. I’ve got all my sisters with me.”

“Athletes who left an impression on me through their activist commitments to fight against discrimination, they are rather Anglo-Saxon,” Patouillet noted.

“I also want to show that we can change things”

“In France, it’s still complicated to find athletes who really take a stand on these subjects,” she continued.

“I hope that the [2024] Games in Paris will give rise, or at least be an opportunity for certain athletes, to speak out on these subjects and that, after that, there will be changes on this.”

Patouillet first got involved in para-cycling due to a foot malformation in her late 20s.

She went on to win two bronze medals from the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The athlete has used her spotlight with care: she carefully chooses sponsors aligned with her views.

Additionally, Patouillet claimed the para-cycling road race world title last year.

Furthermore, she was voted 2023’s ‘Sporting Personality of the Year’ by French gay magazine Tetu.

“Thank you [Tetu Magazine] for giving visibility to Paralympic, women’s & lesbian sport,” she wrote on Instagram after receiving the award.

“Being high-level sports and speaking out about discrimination (sexism, LGBTQIAphobia, validism, racism..) it’s not always very simple.”

Throughout her career, Patouillet has been an unwaveringly supportive activist. For example, she dyed her hair rainbow-coloured to compete at the 2022 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships.

The world of sports has become especially treacherous with LGBTQ+ rights in recent years.

Trans and non-binary athletes have been stopped from competing in national events due to British Cycling ending its policy on their inclusion.

Similarly, Swim England has created a specific ‘open’ category for trans and non-binary athletes.