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NZ Rugby working on diversity programme

Tue 12 May 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

New Zealand Rugby says it’s in the early days of developing a diversity programme of its own, but backs an agreement between World Rugby and International Gay Rugby to educate and eliminate homophobia in the game. The UK's rainbow laces campaign is among the anti-homophobia in sport campaigns overseas. A first of its kind study carried out New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland has looked at the level of homophobia in sport. In all, 71 per cent of the New Zealanders who took part said they believe youth team sports are not supportive or safe for lesbian, gay or bisexual people, while 78 per cent reported witnessing or experiencing homophobia in sport. Kiwi gay men were more likely than those from other nations to keep their sexuality secret in both youth and adult sports, with many saying they feared bullying from teammates and discrimination from coaches and officials. The Out on the Fields study found gay men here were the most likely to play team sports in their youth and more likely than gay men in any other country to play rugby, at 30 per cent. New Zealand has had a number of openly-lesbian rugby players at elite level, but no openly-gay male players. Rainbow Labour MP and former Black Fern Louisa Wall says the administrators of New Zealand rugby should lead the way on combating homophobia in sport. She points to an accord signed by Australia’s major sporting codes last year, saying New Zealand codes could easily replicate what their Australian counterparts have done. “New Zealand Rugby promotes rugby as a sport to be enjoyed by all Kiwis regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation,” says General Manager of Public Affairs at New Zealand Rugby, Nick Brown. He says the union supports an agreement signed between World Rugby and International Gay Rugby in March, to work together to educate and eliminate homophobia in the game. “And we welcome this latest research which will be a valuable input into our own diversity and inclusiveness work currently underway,” Brown says. Australia’s multi-sport diversity code was led by its Government. New Zealand Sports Minister Jonathan Coleman is on his way to Canada and unavailable to comment on whether the government might consider a similar initiative here.      

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 12th May 2015 - 9:10am

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