ACT sport and recreation minister Andrew Barr has called on the NRL to follow the AFL’s lead in extending the football code’s anti-vilification policies to cover gay and lesbian people.

Barr, Australia’s only gay sports minister and a rabid Hawthorn supporter, congratulated the AFL on its announcement last week to stamp out vilification of gays, lesbians and people with disabilities.

I congratulate AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou on the strong stance the AFL is taking in stamping out discrimination against gay and lesbian fans and players, Barr said.

He said the code had a proud history of social inclusion. The AFL’s anti-racism campaign in the 1990s was widely recognised as a success.

This move will not only encourage more people to play AFL, but will also encourage more people to follow the code, because it makes the game more representative of the diverse and multicultural country Australia is.

It also sends the right message to young Australians, the message that vilification for any reason is just not on.

In a pointed message to the NRL, Barr said he hoped it followed suit.

When you think about the recent -˜Elton Johns’ skit on The Footy Show it’s clear that in this area, and a number of others, the NRL has a way to go.

I’d like to see the NRL and all sporting codes have a look at their rules and strengthen their stance against all forms of vilification both on and off the paddock.

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