SENIOR officials from Australia’s most popular sports codes recently met in Canberra to discuss LGBTI inclusion amid concern some have been falling behind when it comes to meeting targets to support gay players and spectators.
The high-level meeting, instigated by the Australian Sports Commission and the Play By The Rules sports inclusion program, occurred on the sidelines of last week’s inaugural You Can Play forum where local ACT sporting clubs came together to discuss LGBTI inclusion.
While all the major codes have listed sexuality in various policies for some time, the framework, launched in March, committed them to producing comprehensive LGBTI inclusion programs by August of this year.
However, an investigation by the Star Observer found soccer and cricket had missed the initial deadline to fully implement the Framework. The Star Observer understands both sports are continuing to work on beefing up their engagement with the LGBTI community.
The Canberra meeting was also attended by representatives of netball, basketball and swimming — none of which have yet signed onto the framework.
Play by the Rules manager Peter Downes said the summit aimed to check the progress of the framework and to “give a bit of snapshot to where the current sports are up to and where the new ones can get to”.
He defended the differing level of progress by the major codes.
“Perhaps it’s taking a bit longer than many people expected but they certainly are committed to moving forward,” he said.
Talking to the Star Observer, Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said he saw “absolutely no reason” why his sport couldn’t become the sixth signatory to the framework.
Moore said the key finding from the meeting was that many current policies on discrimination and inclusion lacked sufficient detail.
“The meat on the bone is crucial – we can say all the right things but how we make it work is the difference,” he said.
Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 president Andrew Purchas, who spoke at the You Can Play forum, said while he had the “sense” sporting codes were taking homophobia seriously, work on fully implementing the framework’s aims was patchy.
“We know this has been done with varying degrees, which is disappointing.” he said.
“We are confident [the codes] have a sincere intent to fulfil the commitments they have made, but some are taking longer than others.”
A Bingham Cup-backed report card highlighting the progress made by the various sports when it came to meeting targets on LGBTI inclusion was due for release this month.
However, Purchas said this had now been delayed until as late as March next year: “It is better to give the sports a bit more time and work collaboratively with them to help them achieve everyone’s shared goal of addressing homophobia.”