Ian Roberts: AFL Needs Better LGBTQIA+ Education After Finlayson Slur Incident

Ian Roberts: AFL Needs Better LGBTQIA+ Education After Finlayson Slur Incident
Image: Sources: IMDb and Port Adelaide FC

Gay sports icon and activist Ian Roberts has said the AFL and all Australian sports institutions must invest in more LGBTQIA+ educational programs in the wake of Jeremy Finlayson’s three-game suspension for using a homophobic slur. 

Roberts told NewsCorp that Finlayson still needed to apologise to the entire queer community, considering his apology only went to the Essendon player specifically. 

“I get that he understands it is wrong but he needs to apologise to the people who it is deeply offensive to,” Roberts said. “That word – people don’t say it, they spit it. 

“When I am confronted with things like that, I tell people, do you know what that word means? Did you have it in your head to degrade straight men?

“As a gay man, that word isn’t just meant to offend you, it’s meant to cut you. It’s almost like the ‘N’ word.” 

Roberts, who is still the only NRL or AFL player to come out as gay while playing the game, added that the AFL could be doing much more to keep the public informed and educated. 

“This is the time to broadcast the possible consequences of this stuff,” Roberts said. “I really believe sporting bodies should be the messenger to the public with education.” 

“The AFL now has a responsibility to do something about that and say we are not going to accept it. Not to be seen to do more, actually do more.

“Words are cheap but people pay attention to actions from organisations.”

Finlayson’s three-game ban for homophobic slur

AFL announced yesterday that they would be giving Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson a three-match suspension for ‘Conduct Unbecoming’ after saying a homophobic slur to an Essendon player on Friday April 5th. 

Additionally, Finlayson is required to complete and pay for a Pride in Sport education course during his suspension. The AFL was clear that Finlayson’s immediate forthcomingness regarding his use of the slur factored heavily into the decision. 

Finlayson said that he knew the slur wasn’t acceptable “straight away” and has cooperated with the AFL and Port Adelaide FC during the period where his punishment was being decided. 

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