SYDNEY (AP) — Chief executives of Australia’s major sports leagues have signed a commitment to eliminate discrimination against gay people among their teams, players and spectators.
The heads of the Australian Football League, Australian Rugby Union, National Rugby League, Cricket Australia and Football Federation Australia signed the pledge Wednesday.
The agreement was announced by organizers of the Bingham Cup, a gay rugby tournament scheduled for Sydney in late August.
Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said players, supporters, coaches and administrators “should feel safe, welcome and included, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.”
The signing in Sydney featured the screening of a 30-second TV and stadium ad featuring Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson, footballers Alessandro Del Piero and Harry Kewell and Australian Olympic basketball player Lauren Jackson.
“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,” said Andrew Purchas, president of the Bingham Cup. “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.”
Former Australia rugby captain John Eales said sport should be more welcoming for gay people.
“We have reached a turning point in our efforts to change sporting culture so that sexuality is no longer an issue,” said Eales, who is a Bingham Cup ambassador.