AUSTRALIA’s most popular and influential sporting codes have committed to creating more inclusive environments for LGBTI people by participating in a new Pride in Sport Index.

The initiative is similar to Pride in Diversity’s corporate program and its Australian Worplace Equality Index (AWEI), and will work with sporting codes to create sustainable change.

Results of the 2015 Out on the Fields survey revealed only one per cent of respondents believed LGBTI people were accepted within sports and a further 78 per cent thought an LGBTI person would not be safe as a spectator at a sporting event.

Launched today, Pride in Sport will assist Australian sporting organisations with all aspects of LGBTI inclusion as it pertains to their sport and those work- ing within the sporting organisation.

It will also work with members to achieve best practice as benchmarked by the Pride in Sport Index and create better health outcomes for LGBTI players, coaches, fans and others by creating inclusive spaces though the reduction of homophobia, stigma and discrimination.

Pride in Sport co-founder Andrew Purchas said he was “thrilled” Australia’s five major sporting codes have signed on to the program including Australian Rugby Union (ARU), National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and Cricket Australia (CA). Basketball Australia, Golf Australia, Swimming Australia and Water Polo Australia have also signed on as advisory sports.

“The Pride in Sport Index is a world first,” Purchas told the Star Observer.

“[It] will provide the means for the sports organisations to demonstrate how they are reducing homophobia and transphobia in their sport and making it more available to all, regardless of sexuality.”

FFA head of community and women’s football Emma Highwood said Australia’s soccer code had spent a lot of time on creating gender diversity and pitting different sporting codes against each other was a good thing.

“It’s a great initiative to show what an inclusive club should look like,” she said.

“It will show sports the way forward to reach that inclusiveness rather than being critical from the outside. We can take that approach and work collectively towards the same goal.”

Water Polo Australia chief executive Chris Harrison believes a player’s decision to come out is still a brave move but sporting codes had to lead by example to let people know they would be safe.

“It’s about being a good citizen, if we can help even one person, then it’s all been worth it,” he said.

Results of the Pride in Sport index will be released at an official event in March 2017.

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