Ryan Stig

Openly homophobic: rugby league footballer Ryan Stig

Cricket authorities in Australia have agreed to join rugby and football bosses in signing a commitment against homophobia in their respective games.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week that the heads of the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL), Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will meet next month to sign a letter agreeing to incorporate an anti-homophobia policy.

Initially, Cricket Australia declined to take part because, it said, it did not have “enough time” to consider the policy, but then made a sudden about turn.

On Tuesday, the Herald revealed that Cricket Australia has now told internal stakeholders, including its major sponsors, that it will join the other sports in signing on to the letter at the historic meeting.

The policy on homophobia was drafted over a number of months by the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission, along with Andrew Purchas, the chairman of the gay rugby tournament the Bingham Cup.

“This framework is important in eliminating homophobia in sport as it provides clear direction from the top of the sports’ peak bodies,” said Purchas. “Meaningful change needs clear and unambiguous leadership and grassroots activity.”

In Australia and around the world, the macho sports world has generally remained impervious to efforts to make it more accepting to gays and lesbians.

In October last year, Australian rugby league footballer Ryan Stig was slammed for making homophobic comments. He said on social media that same-sex marriage was the work of Satan, compared homosexuality to alcoholism and said it was a “spiritual disease” and that backing gay rights was a “politically correct charade.”

The best that his then-club, the Newcastle Knights, was able to muster as a response was to say that, “These comments are the personal opinion of Stig, based on his own beliefs and do not reflect those of the Club.”

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