Jozi Cats teams up with SAHRC to tackle homophobia in rugby

The Jozi Cats, South Africa’s first gay and inclusive competitive rugby club, and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will tackle homophobia in rugby on Human Right’s Day with an inclusive tag rugby tournament.

With a total prize money of R10,000, the #PrideInRugby tournament will be hosted at Digger’s Rugby Club in Randburg – the home of inclusive rugby in South Africa and the Jozi Cats – on Wednesday 21 March.

Digger’s, one of the oldest rugby clubs in South Africa, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jozi Cats in 2017 to take a stand against homophobia in rugby. This tournament forms part of its 125-year celebrations.

Spokesperson for the SA Human Rights Commission, Gail Smith, said the commission is very excited to collaborate with the Jozi Cats.

“Equality is a foundational value of our constitutional democracy. Homophobia violates this fundamental tenet of our Constitution and is an affront on the dignity of LBGT individuals,” she explained.

“This initiative by Jozi Cats is welcomed as an important sign that homophobia should not be tolerated, either on or off the sports field. Sport matters, both as a vehicle for social cohesion and because it has an undeniable impact on the mental and physical well-being of those who participate.”

Smith added: “More sports clubs should be encouraged to actively challenge homophobia and inequality and to create safe spaces for members of the LBGT community, particularly the youth, to participate.”

Jozi Cats Chairman, Chris Verrijdt, said that at its core, the club is about connecting communities in a safe space to enjoy rugby.

“We felt this was the perfect opportunity to bring our diverse communities together to understand where and how we can all work together to promote inclusivity, diversity and equality,” he said.

“Having an organisation like the South African Human Rights Commission as partner for this day will set an example of how sport can be used both as a lexicon of engagement and understanding to promote tolerance both on and off the field.”

The entry fee is R1,000 for a squad of 10 players and interested teams can register via tag@jozicats.co.za. Food stalls, cash bar and a secure kids’ playing area will be available on the day.

All proceeds from the #PrideInRugby tournament will go to the Jozi Cats, the Digger’s 125-year Trust and the Khayelitsha Cats – a group of lesbian women in Khayelitsha who love slam poetry and rugby.

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