Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has officially given her backing to a bid for the country to host the Bingham Cup in two years’ time.

The 2012 edition of the rugby tournament was held in Manchester earlier this summer, when the Sydney Convicts claimed the title.

It has previously been hosted in San Francisco, London, New York, Dublin and Minneapolis.

The cup is the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby teams and is the largest men’s 15-aside rugby union tournament in the sporting calendar outside of the IRB Rugby World Cup.

Ms Gillard said: “Australia is a sports-loving nation which also has an abiding commitment to diversity and mutual respect”.

She added: “In recent years, Sydney has hosted the gay games, the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup with a remarkable spirit of openness and celebration.

“I know that Bingham Cup participants would receive the same warm and generous welcome.”

The cup is named after Mark Bingham, a gay rugby player who died on United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11 2001.

The biennial tournament sees teams from cities rather than countries taking part.

Ms Gillard’s support follows her cancellation last week of a speaking engagement at the Australian Christian Lobby after the group’s chief said gay lifestyles were worse for health than smoking.

The prime minister strongly opposes legalising equal marriage.