Prime Minister Julia Gillard has endorsed a bid for Sydney to host the gay rugby world cup in 2014.
In a video recording, the PM said she strongly supported a bid by the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club for the 2014 Bingham Cup.
“I strongly endorse the Convicts bid,” Gillard said
“Australia is a sports loving nation which also has an abiding commitment to diversity and mutual respect.”
Gillard said Sydney would welcome the cup with open arms.
“In recent years, Sydney has hosted the gay games, the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup with a remarkable spirit of openness and celebration.
The video did not say if the PM’s support would extend to any financial assistance from the government for the biennial gay rugby tournament, which now involves 1500 players and over 35 teams from around the world.
The video also featured messages of support from Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham, former Wallabies captain John Eales, and rugby league player Daniel Conn.
Sydney Convicts founder and chairman of the Bingham Cup 2014 Bid Committee, Andrew Purchas, said support for Sydney’s bid had been overwhelming.
“It is very clear that homophobia is quite rampant in the footy codes and many of the Convicts players would not be playing rugby if it was not for the Convicts,” he said.
“If the Bingham Cup is played in Sydney it will hopefully demonstrate to a wider audience that gay can play rugby and shine a light on this issue.”
The Bingham Cup was named after the gay man who helped wrestle flight UA 93 from the terrorists on September 11, 2001. It was started to help dispel stereotypes about gay men and provide a safe place to play rugby. It’s believed that many gay men quit the sport because of homophobia on and off the field.
Watch the video below: