The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has launched the Commonwealth Sport Pride Network, aiming to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion at the Commonwealth Games and beyond.

It coincides with this year's Rainbow Laces Day, which celebrates the involvement of LGBTQ+ people in sport and is supported by Birmingham 2022, the next host of the Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Sport Pride Network aims to bring together athletes, coaches, Commonwealth Games Associations and other key parties in the Commonwealth Sport Movement.

It has four goals - creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and allies to undertake activities as a community, raising awareness of LGBTQ+ participation in Commonwealth sport, supporting relevant bodies through information-sharing, training and education, and providing a platform to pursue LGBTQ+ acceptance and equality across the Commonwealth.

Community, education, visibility and influence will serve as main areas of focus for the Commonwealth Sport Pride Network (CSPN).

Its activities will feature at Birmingham 2022, with athletes, coaches and team members invited to participate.

"We hope the network will be a safe space to connect, support, learn, understand and celebrate," CGF President Dame Louise Martin explained.

"This is not a political movement, but an opportunity to champion inclusion and tell stories in a positive way.

"In launching this voluntary network, we are mindful of Commonwealth-wide realities.

"Our cultural and religious diversity defines our family, and it is important for the CGF to continue to lead by example, embracing our shared passion for sport and living our values of Humanity, Equality and Destiny.

"As 'The Games for Everyone' we all hope Birmingham 2022 will provide an inspiring and important opportunity to engage, champion and benefit many diverse communities, and I am proud that this will now include support and initiatives for the LGBTQ+ sporting community."

The creation of the CSPN was welcomed by athletes including Jamaican swimmer Michael Gunning, who worked with the CGF to assist with its establishment, and Sarah-Jane Perry, who won a squash silver medal for England at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Lou Englefield, the co-chair of the Pride House International coalition, was also hopeful that the CSPN will make a positive impact on peoples' lives.

"The launch of the CSPN is a huge step forwards in the inclusion, participation and visibility of LGBTIQ+ people in sport throughout the Commonwealth," Englefield said.

"The network will provide much needed support and leadership when LGBTIQ+ people's lives and rights are not experienced equitably and in some areas are under threat of being rolled back."

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are scheduled for July 28 to August 8 in the English city.

Organisers say they aim to provide "a legacy of promoting and celebrating diversity and inclusion in the West Midlands and the Commonwealth", and hope to promote participation in sport among under-represented groups and deliver a fully accessible and inclusive Games.

Homosexuality is a crime in many Commonwealth nations.

At the time of Gold Coast 2018, it was illegal to be homosexual in 37 of the countries competing.