Rainbow Laces: Kicking homophobia to the kerb
Teams and athletes are being encouraged to show their support for LGBTI players in sports by wearing rainbow laces during a ‘Rainbow Round’ of activities to be held this week.
The #rainbowlaces campaign to help kick-out homophobia from sport, takes place between March 31 and April 4 across all four football codes and Australian netball at matches around the country.
A similar campaign which launched in the UK three years ago, has proved extremely successful in targeting and raising awareness of homophobia in sport.
Andrew Purchas, vice president of ACON and co-founder of the Pride in Sport Index (PSI) described launching the campaign in Australia as a great thrill. Purchas, who was integral in bringing the Bingham Cup (the gay rugby world cup) to Sydney said he welcomed the opportunity to encourage a more inclusive environment for LGBTI people in sport.
“We know from our advocacy partners in the UK where they have held a similar #RainbowLaces campaign for the past three years, that it has been a great way of bringing the issues around homophobia in sport to the attention of the broader community, which is essential to make change happen.”
Purchas said everyone should be able to enjoy sport regardless of their sexual identity or preference.
“By wearing #RainbowLaces, athletes are helping us say #KnotMe to homophobia in sport.
We hope it will also encourage national and state sporting organisations and clubs to join
the Pride in Sport Index,” Purchas said.
Despite massive inroads, homophobia in sport still remains an issue in Australia, with the 2015 global study 'Out on the Fields' showing more than 80 percent of people who identified as LGBTI had experienced or witnessed homophobia in sport.
This weekend in an effort to stamp out homophobia, a slew of teams across all four footy codes have committed to don rainbow laces including the North Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers, Brisbane Lions, GWS Giants, NSW Swifts, Sydney FC, the Brumbies and Waratahs.
Surfer Joel Parkinson is also showing his support by wearing a rainbow leg rope at this year’s Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.
The campaign has also received support from Aussie sportswear company SKINS. Executive Chairman of SKINS, Jaimie Fuller says he was horrified when he read the results of the Out on the Fields study.
“Sport isn’t about who or what you are, but about shared experiences, shared endeavours, team work and fair play. By its very nature, sport and inclusivity and diversity should go together.
“Yet the more I learn about the issue, the more I also have learned about the extent of the challenge.”Fuller said.
Fuller encouraged more teams and sportsmen and women to speak up on the issue.
“Social and cultural change do not happen overnight, and we’re in this for the long haul
with Pride in Diversity,” Fuller said.
“I hope more teams and athletes participate next year to help us make sport the safe, secure and welcoming environment that it should be, and where the only thing that counts
is what happens on the field of play.”
#RainbowLaces are also available for free to community sporting organisations by heading to rainbowlaces.net or for individuals from participating Rebel or Amart Sports stores while stocks last