Australia: World First – Professional Sports Commit to Eliminating Homophobia

David Pocock Australian Wallaby

David Pocock, rugby player with the Australian Wallabies and Ambassador for the 2014 Bingham World Cup

In a world first, every major professional sport in Australia will collectively commit to tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Australian Football League, Australia Rugby Union, National Rugby League, Football Federation of Australia and Cricket Australia will collectively commit to creating inclusive sporting cultures and eliminate homophobia in their respective sport. At the launch event, scheduled for 3pm Sydney time tomorrow (7am Irish time) CEOs and Executive General Managers from each of the mentioned sports organisations will announce their goal; to implement anti-homophobia and inclusion policies 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 2014 Sydney, the world cup of gay rugby. 

This year’s ambassador for the Bingham World Cup is the Wallabies’ David Pocock, who described it “a travesty” that LGBT people may not feel comfortable participating in sports for fear of being  judged.

“I hate the idea of people missing out on sport because of the fear of being discriminated against,” Pocock said. “If you look through the history of sports, I think sports are at their very best when they are challenging society to be more inclusive. That’s when we really see the value of sport, when we see people regardless of their race, sexual orientation or anything else.”

“I can’t say that I have ever played with someone who is gay and for me that is pretty sad, because statistically I have. What that means is that people on my teams haven’t felt safe, being who they really are. I think it is so important that we are not telling people that they have to come out and express their true sexuality, but we have to do more to make it a welcoming environment so that people feel safe to come out, and it’s not a big deal and when an athlete comes out as gay it’s not a huge headline.”

High-profile players from each of the Australian sports teams will also attend tomorrow’s launch event,  including Nick Farr-Jones (Rugby), Greg Inglis (NRL), Matthew Johns (NRL), Phil Davis (AFL), Mike Pyke (AFL), Sasa Ognenovski (Football), Sara Walsh (Football), Nathan Lyon (Cricket) and Alex Blackwell (Cricket).

Andrew Purchas, President of the 2014 Bingham Cup Sydney Organising Committee, said:

“The commitment later this week by every professional sport in Australia to eliminate homophobia marks a turning point in the long-term efforts by gay, lesbian and bisexual people to be treated with respect in sport. It’s the first time in the world that all the major, professional sports in a country have committed to eliminating homophobia. They will also commit to making sport inclusive and safe. We hope this historic event will attract the attention of sporting organisations around the world and motivate others to make similar commitments.”

A 30 Second anti-homophobia video, will also be shown. It features other well-known athletes from Australian sports teams, including Cricket, Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Basketball, Australian Football, Netball and Swimming.

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