CA supports moves to end homophobia

Sutherland committed to eradicating homophobia after international study reveals extent of issue

Cricket Australia has reaffirmed its stance to stamp out homophobia in sport, welcoming the release of the Out on the Fields study into the issue.

The study – the first to take an international look at homophobia in sports – found that only one per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual athletes felt they were 'completely accepted' in sport.

It also found that being a spectator in the stands was the most common place for homophobia to occur, with a staggering 78 per cent of respondents saying they did not think it was safe for openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people to be part of the sport-watching public.

Nearly 9500 participants of all sexualities took part in the study, including more than 3000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual Australians. The study focused on issues of sexuality in team sports and compared the six major English-speaking countries.

Australia was the least-welcoming of all countries for gay men in sports teams, and also rated poorly on a global scale in terms of gay athletes opting to remain 'in the closet' for fear of bullying or discrimination, including by coaches or officials.

Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the study showed sport still had much work to do to tackle homophobia and CA was committed to doing so.

"The findings of the study are concerning," Sutherland said. "But the support of the study by Australian cricket – and sport more broadly – shows we are eager to better understand homophobia in sport and take action against it.

"There is simply no place for homophobia in society – and in particular sport – and we are committed to eradicating it through better education and training at grassroots level."

CA last year signed the Anti-Homophobia in Sport Framework and will later this year release its A Sport for All diversity and inclusion resource, which includes training for Australia's 4000 cricket clubs, to further counter homophobia in sport.

CA has been forthright in their attempts to remove homophobia in sport, joining forces with other major sporting codes to become a signatory to the Bingham Cup Sydney in 2014 as part of the Pride in Sport Index.

Supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian Sports Commission and undertaken by Pride in Diversity, the Pride in Sport Index is a benchmarking and assessment instrument to identify the shift in inclusiveness within sporting codes in Australia.

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Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars vice-captain and openly gay athlete Alex Blackwell said she was encouraged by the action Australia's leading sports were taking – in particular cricket.

"It was disappointing to see that a fear of being bullied and being discriminated against by coaches and officials is keeping so many lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in the closest," Blackwell said.

"Everyone involved in sport must work toward ending homophobic behaviour. Through education and our actions we can tackle the behaviours uncovered through the study.

"Cricket Australia signing that document made me feel that I am not alone... that Cricket Australia also wants to improve the culture of inclusion and respect so that gay athletes can be themselves and strive to the highest levels of their sport."

Blackwell was CA's first Mardi Gras parade leader in March – wearing her Baggy Green cap throughout the march.

More information can be found at outonthefields.com