AN Australian campaign aimed at eliminating homophobia in sport has achieved international recognition, winning two awards acknowledging the campaign’s impact on global sport.
‘Tackling Homophobia in Sport’ was the creation of a team of volunteers from Australia’s first gay rugby team, the Sydney Convicts, and others involved in the organising committee for 2014’s Bingham Cup in Sydney.
Run by the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), the “Stevies” are considered one of the most prestigious awards in recognising advocacy campaigns, and its receiving one makes the Australian campaign eligible to win the IPRA Golden World “Grand Prix”, along with an award in association with the United Nations.
The campaign also took home the gold at the recent PR Week Asia awards in Hong Kong, winning in the category of “Public Education of the Year”, considered the top award for communication campaigns in the Asia Pacific region.
These two honours are the latest to be awarded to the anti-homophobia campaign and the team behind it, following the Bingham Cup’s “Event of the Year” win at the NSW Sports Awards — the first for a LGBTI event — and “Community Organisation of the Year” at the NSW Honour Awards.
‘Tackling Homophobia in Sport’ also received high praise from Australian rugby icon John Eales and Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull.
“Until recently there was little political will to address homophobia in sport because I think people simply didn’t fully understand the problem,” Eales said.
“The Sydney Convicts put a human face to the impact of homophobic behaviour on gay athletes, making it hard to deny the need for change.”
Turnbull added: “As a long-time advocate for equality I was greatly impressed by the ability of these passionate rugby players to draw attention to discrimination of LGBTI athletes.”
“Over the years, particularly over the last 18 months, they have elevated the need to address homophobia in sport onto the national agenda and united people who are normally competitors to work together on this important issue.”
The campaign that originally started out as an effort to address homophobia in rugby grew to include commitments from all five major sporting codes in Australia.
Its reach has also gone far beyond Australia, with organisations in Canada, the US, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK looking to adopt and recreate the campaign for local audiences.
Recently the Convicts gave the opening presentation at New Zealand Rugby Union forum on homophobia in sport.
The team behind the ‘Tackling Homophobia in Sport’ have launched a crowd-funding campaign to help fund additional work in affecting change in other countries where homophobia is still highly prevalent in sport.
To find out more, visit www.gofundme.com/tacklehomophobia