The Melbourne Mustangs ice hockey team will don rainbow jerseys this Saturday in Australia’s first ever ice hockey Pride Matches to fight homophobia in sport.
Six national ice hockey teams will take part in Pride Matches on the day, at three venues around the country: the Mustangs will challenge the Newcastle Northstars, the Sydney Bears will be pitted against Melbourne Ice, and Adelaide Adrenaline will play the Canberra Brave.
The Melbourne Mustangs’ Pride Game Ambassador Damien Bright (pictured below) said he was proud to be part of a team that promotes equality for everyone.
“Our club is committed to supporting the LGBTIQ community and fighting homophobia,” he said.
“The match will showcase inclusivity in sport, and stand up for love and fairness.”
The games will be held the same day as the AFL’s second ever Pride Round between the Sydney Swans and the St Kilda Saints, and are also in the tradition of a similar initiative in Canadian ice hockey.
On game day, LGBTIQ organisations will attend games and activities will focus on educating punters about the queer community and the importance of eradicating discrimination and homophobic language from the game.
Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen will walk out on a red carpet over the ice to do the ceremonial “puck drop”.
“For many people, sport is a key part of health and wellbeing and community involvement. However, sporting environments are not always welcoming or safe for LGBTIQ people,” Allen said.
“Events like [the Pride Matches] are a fantastic way to show the community that LGBTIQ inclusion in sport is valued and celebrated.”
The matches are a partnership with Amnesty International, Proud 2 Play, and Team Melbourne.
Amnesty International Australia’s Claire Mallinson said the pride round will “make the hockey rink a place of safety, inclusion and fun, where LGBTIQ people’s rights are protected.”
Proud 2 Play CEO James Lolicato said the recent “Out on the Fields” report found that 80% of participants believed that LGBTIQ people are not at all accepted or accepted a little in sporting culture.
“We need to do all we can to make sport a safer environment for all, no matter their gender or sexuality,” he said.