In what’s been described as a first for major professional sports in Australia, the Australian Football League and Australia Rugby Union this week committed to eliminating homophobia in sport.
Commitments to ensure that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are welcome as players, coaches, administrators and fans will also be made today by the National Rugby League, the Football Federation of Australia and Cricket Australia.
The sporting bodies say they will implement an Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework by the end of August 2014, ahead of the arrival in Australia of thousands of international gay rugby players and fans for the 2014 Bingham Cup.
‘Codes of conduct are vital in complementing law to drive cultural change within organisations, to tackle homophobia and to provide a more inclusive sporting environment,’ said human rights commissioner Tim Wilson.
‘The framework provides a practical guide to eradicating homophobia, discrimination, harassment and bullying on the basis of sexuality.
The Human Rights Commission helped Bingham Cup Sydney develop the anti-homophobia framework, in partnership with the Australian Sports Commission, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the Human Rights Law Centre.
Supporters include the sports minister, Peter Dutton past and present players including Nick Farr-Jones, Ed Jenkins, and Greg Inglis.
A 30-second community service advertisement developed by Play By The Rules and featuring Mitchell Johnson (cricket), Harry Kewell (football) and Alessandro Del Piero (football) will be aired nationally as part of the anti-homophobia campaign. Play By The Rules is co-chaired by disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes.
The president of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, Andrew Purchas, said many gay, lesbian and bisexual people 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.
‘Discrimination in sport is something we see globally.
‘In fact, sport is one of the last places in western societies where gay, lesbian and bisexual people still struggle to be accepted. We challenge sporting organisations around the world to adopt similar policies and make sport welcoming and safe for everyone.’