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How the sporting codes aligned to stamp out homophobia
Apr09

How the sporting codes aligned to stamp out homophobia

LAST UPDATED // Thursday, 10 April 2014 10:07 Written by // Cec Busby

Here’s what 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) have to say about joining together to stamp out homophobia in sport.

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Andrew Demetriou: AFL

"AFL embraces diversity through its policies and actions but realise there is more work to be done. The AFL doesn’t tolerate discrimination in any form and I am very proud of our track record in responding to issues and also proactively ensuring safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for all people involved in Australian football.

"Our approach is underpinned by education and awareness raising activities, support services and research as well as through our player rules.

"One of the AFLs most tangible actions in addressing homophobia came five years ago, when we expanded an existing rule relating to racial vilification to prohibit vilification based on sexual identity. Discrimination is never acceptable and vilification based on sexual identity is just as offensive as that based on gender, race, religion or special disability. The AFL vilification policy is aimed at both prevention and building a capacity in the industry to recognise respond to and provide support to anyone affected by discrimination and vilification.

"We want Australian football at every level to be a sport that welcomes everyone. I’m very proud to be standing in such wonderful company as we play a leadership role to stamp out homophobia in whatever form it takes."

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Dave Smith: NRL

"I’m proud to be part of this initiative and I’m sure that the heads of the other codes would agree that the game of football is like no other. It’s a sport where our athletes run out on a field and show their remarkable skills to thousands of fans every week and get hailed as heroes by the media and supporters alike; they deserve that credit.

"But when you look back at the history of the game – the names of those who have done something to change the fabric of the game – you think of Ian Roberts who took the brave step to come out as gay. And the great thing was not just that Ian was brave enough to make that declaration, but that it was so sensitively received by his peers in the community. And Ian’s legacy remains.

"We still have moments I’m not proud of – like when one of our players made the most disparaging remarks about homosexuality last year. We should have been stronger in our condemnation and we’ve learnt from that experience and we would take a hard line against anyone making those comments today.

"That’s why the NRL wants to be part of this today. We are currently revamping our inclusion policy to make sure our game is for everyone, regardless of their race, sexuality, colour, gender or anything else. This will be in place by the end of August.

"We are committed to tackling discrimination in any form - and that commitment doesn’t stop with a document. It’s why the NRL plays a part in harmony day and why we have a close the gap round, and a women in league round. Men and women from every background are part of our game. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project – it’s how real heroes are made."

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David Gallop: Football Federation of Australia

"Sport has a great opportunity to raise awareness about this issue and must take that responsibility seriously. We say football is the game that unites all Australians. And that football is the game that brings the nation together and we will see that when we go to Brazil to play in the biggest sporting event every four years in the world, the FIFA World Cup...

"A few years ago the late great Johnny Warren titled his biography Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters. He talked about the bigotry he faced, growing up in the 50s and 60s, surrounding the sport that he loved – then called soccer- now called football.

"In 2014 football welcomes everyone. Football says, come and play our game, it’s safe, simple, skilful and we won’t discriminate against you on any grounds.

"I was well aware of Ian Roberts’s career having signed him to super league to play for the cowboys. Ian was a champion player and when he finished his career I put him on the NRL judiciary because his standing in the game was enormous and his courage both on and off the field was admired by many.

"Today this is an initiative we must all take forward. It is one football takes seriously. We say in football 'come and play and you’ll be welcomed no matter who you are'."

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Ben Amarfio: Cricket Australia

"The first line of Cricket Australia’s vision strategy talks about how we want to be Australia’s favourite sport. And to be Australia’s favourite sport we have to be a sport for all Australians. We need to make sure we are welcoming and embracing of all Australians. It doesn’t matter what colour you are, what religion or background or sexual orientation – we welcome everyone.

"The playing conditions that govern the rules of cricket talk about the fact that cricket shouldn’t just be played within the rules of the game – but the spirit of the game. The central tenet of the spirit of the game of cricket talks about respect. Respect of your opponents and teammates. And that is a key theme of what we are talking about today and you are hearing a lot of key themes repeated today and that just shows all the sports are on the same page for this issue.

"It’s not just about the athletes – we want our athletes to be treated fairly – and not judged by their sexual orientation but judged by their performance and contribution to the game. But it’s also about the people interested in the game – whether you are a supporter or a fan, an official a coach or administrator or volunteer – we are saying you are welcome in our sport regardless or your sexual orientation.

"We recently established a national diversity council and the council promotes the fact that we want to be a more diverse and inclusive sport and the frameworks that we are talking about today will compliment the work we currently do and the conduct and code of behaviour rules we have for our players. We will continue to educate all 4000 clubs to be more inclusive. It’s unacceptable to discriminate.

"We take this duty and leadership stance seriously. And we commit to promoting diversity is not just as a great thing for sport but for our community."

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Bill Pulver: Australian Rugby Union

"Around the 28th of August last year the Bingham Cup had this wonderful function at NSW parliament house where Australian Rugby Union announced we would be the first professional sporting code to commit to an inclusion policy. Given that the Bingham Cup’s sport of choice is rugby and I’m sure it will remain that way – that was an entirely logical decision for Australian Rugby Union to take.

"Today this announcement takes this to an entirely new level as five of Australia’s major sporting professional codes stand shoulder to shoulder in our collective commitment to tackle all forms of discrimination, particularly homophobia.

"At Australian Rugby, our vision for the game is to ignite passion, build character and create an inclusive Australian Rugby Union community. So our decision to implement an inclusion policy actually was entirely consistent with our vision for the game.

"Put simply, we believe that every individual, whether they are players, supporters, coaches or administrators; should all feel safe, welcome and included regardless of race, gender and sexuality. We want Australian Rugby to be a place where everyone is treated with respect and dignity as part of our desire to build a truly diverse and inclusive rugby community."

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Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and GayNewsNetwork.com.au.

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