Former NBA basketball player, and the first to ever come out, John Amaechi, will speak at a university in Massachusetts about the need for equality in professional sport.

Framington University will host Mr Amaechi to speak on Tuesday in a free lecture, part of the President’s Distinguished Lectures series.

The focus of the talk will be the need for equality in professional sports, and in every day life, Boston.com reports.

Mr Amaechi, born in Boston but raised in the UK, came out in his 2007 autobiography, Man in the Middle, which was a New York Times bestseller.

Amaechi had been vocal about gay rights in sport, and has received the OBE for services to sport and the voluntary sector from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.

He said: “I think people approach bigotry like there’s a hierarchy. Homophobia has always been to the bottom of that ladder”.

The theme of the lectures series this year is “Accepting Others: Finding Common Ground,” and generally they are designed to put forward thought provoking ideas, theories and issues.

Amaechi, who now works as a psychologist and political activist, has also supported projects such as a three year Terrence Higgins Trust HIV awareness program, launched in 2011 and aimed at African communities living in the UK.

Meanwhile in the NFL, there is a clear divide forming between footballers who support equal marriage rights, such as Chris Kluwe or Brendon Ayanbadejo, and those opposed to it, such as Matt Birk.

Professional sports seem to be becoming increasingly important leading up to November’s vote in four US states over whether same-sex couples should be allowed the same marriage rights.