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World First: Leaders of Australia’s Major Professional Sports Commit to Eliminate Homophobia

Convicts-and-Wallabies-cropped2Heads of Australia's sporting codes will join forces tomorrow to launch a world first initiative, to wipe out hompophobia in sporting codes.

Australian Football League's Andrew Demetriou (CEO), Australia Rugby Union's Bill Pulver (CEO), National Rugby League's Dave Smith (CEO), Football Federation of Australia's David Gallop (CEO) and Cricket Australia's Ben Amarfio (Exec. General Manager) will sign a commitment to eliminate homophobia in their sport. They will commit to ensuring gay, lesbian and bisexual players, coaches, administrators and fans feel welcome.

This is the first time in the world that all the major professional sports in a country have collectively committed to tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation. They were brought together by the organisers of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, the world cup of gay rugby, as well as leaders of Australia's first gay rugby union club, the Sydney Convicts. The five sports will agree to implement policies and changes consistent with a newly created Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework, by the end of August, 2014. This is when thousands of international gay rugby players, fans and media arrive in Australia for The Bingham Cup, hosted by the Sydney Convicts.

"I'm proud to see Australian sports play such an important leadership role through making this commitment to diversity and inclusion," said Australia's Minister for Sport, Peter Dutton. "There is no place for discrimination on our sporting fields, in our clubs or sports organisations." The Australian Government will be represented at the event by Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull.

The Federal Minister and the sport leaders will be joined by a range of high-profile, past and present players including Nick Farr-Jones (ARU), Ed Jenkins (ARU), Greg Inglis (NRL), Jess Palmer (NRL), Phil Davis (AFL), Mike Pyke (AFL), Sasa Ognenovski (FFA), Sarah Walsh (FFA), Nathan Lyon (CA) and Alex Blackwell (CA).

A 30-Second anti-homophobia ad will also be premiered at the event. It features the 'who's who' of Australian sporting stars, including Mitchell Johnson (Cricket), Ryan Harris (Cricket), Harry Kewell (Football), Alessandro Del Piero (Football), Paul Gallen (Rugby League), Nate Myles (Rugby League), David Pocock (Rugby Union), Lauren Jackson (Basketball), Nathan Jones (Australian Rules), Sam Mitchell (Australian Rules), Kim Green (Netball) and Libby Trickett (Swimming). The Community Service Announcement was produced for Play by the Rules, an organisation that helps prevent discrimination and harassment in sport. It will be aired nationally this year on TV and at stadiums.

pocock code guidetogayAndrew Purchas, President of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 and Founder of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club, said "Many gay, lesbian and bisexual people still stay in the closet, or drop out of sport altogether, because of homophobic attitudes and discrimination in sport. We have very few gay professional sportspeople who have felt safe to be open about their sexuality while competing and ultimately be role models to others. With these initiatives, we hope to see significant changes to sporting culture. The major professional sporting codes are committed to do more than ban homophobic sledges. They have committed to create encouraging and welcoming sporting environments for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, whether they participate as players, officials or supporters."

One of Australia's most respected sportsmen, Wallaby John Eales, has long supported efforts to make sport more welcoming for gay people. "I feel we have reached a turning point in our efforts to change sporting culture so that sexuality is no longer an issue," said John Eales, who is a 'Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 Ambassador.'

"It's important to focus entirely on a person's ability to play a sport and not get caught-up in old fashioned, clearly incorrect stereotypes and assumptions about people. I'm very proud of the five Australian sporting organisations for undertaking this commitment to make their sport more welcoming, safe and inclusive," said Eales.

Guidetogay.com will update this story with video assets during the day.
ABCNews24 will be airing the launch LIVE - you can tune in at 4pm on ABC24 in Australia.



Rob Manser

Guidetogay.com is the leading travel, news and social network for the LGBTQI community.  Join us on social media.

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