Victorian Sporting Bosses To Make ‘Pledge Of Pride’ For LGBTIQ Inclusion

Rainbow Jerseys Pride Cup LGBTIQ+ inclusion Israel Folau
Players' rainbow jerseys. Photo: Pride Cup Australia

The CEOs of 11 Victorian sporting organisations and clubs will this week unite to make a “Pledge of Pride” for LGBTIQ inclusion, as more and more clubs and codes host their own rainbow “Pride Cup” events.

The Pledge of Pride is an initiative of Pride Cup Australia, and it’s a way of sporting clubs demonstrating their commitment to welcoming all athletes, employees, volunteers and spectators, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

The Pride Cup events see footy teams don rainbow colours to celebrate inclusion and diversity in sport and let LGBTIQ players and fans know they’re welcome and accepted.

The CEOs will unite to make the pledge on Tuesday, as Pride Cup Australia and VicHealth launch the official Pride Cup Handbook, a tool to give sporting clubs the how-to information they need to join the 30 teams around the country holding their own Pride Cup events.

Pride Cup Australia co-founder James Lolicato said the state sporting organisations signing on to the Pledge of Pride initiative was a powerful show of support.

“The first Pride Cup was held in a small, local footy club, to show support for a much-loved teammate and friend, who also happened to be gay,” Lolicato said.

“Since then, Pride Cups have been held in all corners of Victoria and beyond, with sporting clubs standing together proudly to say to the LGBTIQ community, ‘You are welcome here’.”

The first Pride Cup was played in 2014 as a game of Australian rules football, and was the catalyst for the AFL’s now-annual Pride Game.

Since then, Pride Cups have been held across the country by sporting codes including tennis, water polo and hockey, while roller derby, cricket and softball have recently signed on.

Queensland’s first AFL Pride Cup was held on the Gold Coast last July, and was hailed as a great success.

This July, Queensland players from a number of AFL clubs will wear rainbow gear during three more Pride Cup carnivals, comprising more than a dozen matches.

Homophobic language on the sporting field

Research has shown that 80% of Australians have experienced or witnessed homophobic language in sport, a 70% of people believe openly gay spectators would not be safe at a sporting event.

Eighty-seven percent of young gay men and 75% of young gay women remain in the closet while playing sport.

Hockey Victoria recently announced they will be hosting Pride Cups in place of their existing “Fair Go” round to celebrate LGBTIQ inclusion.

Daniel Mioni, an LGBTIQ hockey player, said he welcomed the initiative because for men, “playing sport has been seen as a heterosexual masculine thing.”

“Many LGBTIQ people still feel uneasy about playing in sport, with the perception that it’s not for them,” Mioni said.

“One of my teammates [recently] said ‘that’s so gay’ to our opponents in a game, and I said, ‘don’t use gay as a negative term’.

“He apologised and said it was a slip up. I think Pride Cup is all about enabling those conversations.”

Sporting clubs anywhere in Australia who are interested in hosting their own Pride Cup are encouraged to contact Pride Cup Australia via their website.

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