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Athletes join forces to kick homophobia out of sport

Joe Williams March 31, 2016

A group of athletes have joined forces to tackle LGBT discrimInation across sport.

Australian sporting teams and their fans are being urged to make the sporting world a more accepting place for the LGBT community by helping to address anti-gay behaviour.

A number of athletes are coming together to stage a Rainbow Round of Sport from March 31 to April 4, with teams and individual athletes invited to show their support by wearing rainbow laces at their games.

High-profile athletes committed to wearing rainbow laces in their weekend fixtures include Johnathan Thurston, Robbie Farah and Nathan Peats from rugby league; Matt Toomua from rugby union; Dylan Shiel from AFL; Alex Brosque, Zac Anderson, Bruce Djite, Matt McKay and Michelle Heyman from football; and Sharni Layton from netball.

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 initiative has also been endorsed by Professional Footballers’ Australia, the Rugby League Players’ Association, the Rugby Union Players’ Association and the Australian Rugby Union.

“It’s a great thrill for Australia to have its own Rainbow Laces campaign,” Andrew Purchas, co-founder of the Pride in Sport Index, told ESPN.

“We know from our advocacy partners in the UK, where they have held a similar Rainbow Laces 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.”

In February, top Premier League football teams Arsenal and Man United made a landmark commitment to tackle homophobia.

The two teams showed commitment to Stonewall and Football v Homophobia.

They exchanged pairs of giant rainbow laces before kicking off a Barclays Premier League game at Old Trafford.

More: Australia, Australia, Discrimination, LGBT, pro-LGBT, sport

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