Pride Cup footballer Jason Ball gets King’s Birthday honour

Regional Victorian footballer Jason Ball receives King's Birthday Honours
Images: Supplied

Jason Ball, the footballer who came out as gay and later introduced Pride Cup events to hundreds of sporting clubs, is among the LGBTQIA+ Aussies to make the King’s Birthday Honours List.

After the amateur Aussie Rules player came out in 2012, he became an “accidental activist” and founded the Pride Cup organisation.

Jason’s club Yarra Glen in regional Victoria held the first Pride Cup. Since then, more than 800 sporting clubs across Australia have hosted the inclusive events.

On Monday, Jason Ball was appointed a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for his work on social inclusion initiatives.

“I dedicate this award to our sponsors, supporters, and the 800+ sporting clubs promoting inclusivity through Pride Cup events,” Jason said.

“This King’s Birthday honour reflects the collective effort and commitment of the entire Pride Cup initiative.

“I’m deeply thankful to our sponsors and every club that has hosted a Pride Cup event. Your dedication is the heartbeat of our progress.”

Shift in attitudes in sport since 2012

Reflecting on his advocacy work, Jason Ball said he’d seen footy come “a long way” since 2012.

He said it was disappointing to see two AFL players – Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson and Gold Coast’s Wil Powell – recently use homophobic slurs. The players received match bans as a result.

However, Jason added the AFL’s response shows that “these days people are getting it.”

“There are signs that culture and attitudes are changing because the players owned up to it,” he told AAP.

“They were very quick in apologising. They were willing to apologise to the LGBTQIA+ community who are impacted by this kind of language.

“The AFL coming down [on the players] is going to have an impact on the culture. That’s the leadership that we need to see.”

Numerous LGBTQIA+ Australians receive honours

Suzanne May Brooks from New South Wales has also been given the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the LGBTQIA+ community, and to women in business.

Brooks is the co-founder of The Pinnacle Foundation as well as previously serving on the boards of the YMCA and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Kai Noonan has been recognised for their contribution to the LGBTIQ+ community, and to the domestic and family wellbeing sector. Noonan is currently the Director of Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Prevention at LGBTIQ+ Health Australia.

Richard Watts from Victoria has been recognised for his service to the arts across a wide range of organisations. Watts founded AFL club Collingwood’s Pride Family, and was also editor of queer publication Melbourne Community Voice (MCV). He currently works at Artshub.

David Zyngier

In Victoria, the late Dr David Zyngier was posthumously appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to tertiary education and his local community in Glen Eira. Dr Zyngier was also a notable advocate for Jewish LGBTQIA+ rights.

Felicity Young

Longtime HIV/AIDS prevention advocate Felicity Young has received an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) honour.

For over 30 years, she’s worked on global efforts to end HIV transmission and AIDS-related deaths. She is Principal Director of Health Equity Matters’ International Program (formerly Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations).

“I am incredibly honoured and humbled to be appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia,” Felicity said.

“For more than 30 years, working to improve sexual and reproductive health in low- and middle-income countries has been a core part of my life and career.”

She dedicated the award to “the hard work of my colleagues and team members in Health Equity Matters’ International Program.”

Felicity also paid tribute to “the countless advocates, scientists, healthcare workers, activists and those with lived experience who play a crucial role in the global effort to end HIV.”

Leonard Vary

From national LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia, co-chair Leonard Vary and board member Ryan Phillips also made the 2024 King’s Birthday Honours List.

Equality Australia co-chair Leonard Vary, who is CEO of The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, was appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the philanthropic sector, to the LGBTQIA+ community and to the arts.

Leonard was closely involved with the Australian Marriage Equality campaign. In 2016, Leonard was named as one of Australia’s 50 outstanding LGBTI role models.

“I am personally delighted but in a real way this is a recognition of the groundbreaking work undertaken by Equality Australia in its ongoing efforts to secure equality for our communities,” Leonard said.

Ryan Phillips

Ryan Phillips, an Equality Australia board member since 2019, received a Public Service Medal for outstanding service during his 14-year career.

The proud WA trans man was promoted to Associate Secretary at the Department of Justice in October 2023.

“It is a privilege to contribute to the tireless work of the Victorian Public Service on delivering outcomes for our most vulnerable populations, including LGBTIQ+ people,” Ryan said.

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said the King’s Birthday honours were well-deserved recognition for both advocates.

“They are exemplary and inspiring leaders and role model for our communities. It’s wonderful to see their impressive contributions and commitment recognised.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

1 Comment

  1. 10 June 2024

    LGBTIQA+ ally Dr David Zyngier was also awarded a Member of the Order of Australia:

    “Advocate, Jewish LGBTQIA+ rights.”

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