Eales: End homophobia in sport

2015-05-15 12:32
John Eales (File)

London - Australia's 1999 Rugby World Cup-winning captain John Eales was among a group of prominent rugby figures who on Friday called for an end to homophobia in sport.

The recently published "Out on the Fields" study, which saw nearly 9 500 people surveyed mostly from Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States, indicated homophobia remained a problem across a range of sports.

Around 78 percent of all international respondents said they believed lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people would not be "very safe" if they visibly displayed their sexuality in front of fellow spectators at sports events while 77 percent of UK participants in the study had "witnessed or experienced homophobia" around sport.

Verbal slurs such as 'faggot or 'dyke' as well as jokes about gay people were the most common forms of homophobia reported.

But Eales, whose sport has seen the likes of former Wales captain Gareth Thomas and leading referee Nigel Owens openly declare themselves to be gay, said he was proud of the stance being taken by World Rugby, the game's global governing body.

"I think we were all surprised by the extent of homophobia that was found by the study, but I am glad rugby is leading internationally on this issue," Eales said in a statement published Friday.

"I think World Rugby's commitment to eliminate homophobia from the game is very powerful.

"It will help end the problem because it sends a strong message to everyone involved in sport that homophobic language or any behaviour that makes people feel unwelcome is no longer acceptable."

Eales was joined in his bid to end discrimination on Friday by England's James Haskell, the captain of Premiership club Wasps.

"I think homophobic language is still too common in sport," said Haskell.

"Even if the jokes and banter you sometimes hear are not meant to be harmful, I think it creates an environment where gay people don't feel very welcome."

Read more on:    rugby

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