Australian sporting teams and their fans are being urged to make the sporting environment a more inclusive place for all by helping to address anti-gay behaviours in sport.
The four football codes and netball are combining to stage a Rainbow Round of Sport from March 31 to April 4, with teams and individual athletes invited to show their support by wearing rainbow laces at their games.
High-profile athletes committed to wearing rainbow laces in their weekend fixtures are: Johnathan Thurston, Robbie Farah and Nathan Peats from rugby league; Matt Toomua from rugby union; Dylan Shiel from AFL; Alex Brosque, Zac Anderson, Bruce Djite, Matt McKay and Michelle Heyman from football; and Sharni Layton from netball. Surfer Joel Parkinson is also showing his support by wearing a rainbow leg rope at this year's Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.
The initiative has also been endorsed by Professional Footballers' Australia, the Rugby League Players' Association, the Rugby Union Players' Association and the Australian Rugby Union.
"It's a great thrill for Australia to have its own Rainbow Laces campaign," Andrew Purchas, co-founder of the Pride in Sport Index, said. "We know from our advocacy partners in the UK, where they have held a similar Rainbow Laces campaign for the past three years, that it has been a great way of bringing the issues around homophobia in sport to the attention of the broader community, which is essential to make change happen."
The extent of ant-gay attitudes and behaviour in sport in Australia were laid bare in a 2015 global study commissioned by Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 in conjunction with Repucom entitled Out on the Fields.
The report showed that 80 percent of more than 3000 respondents in Australia had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport, and 70 per cent believed that youth team sports were not safe and supportive for LGBTI people.
"By wearing Rainbow Laces, athletes are helping us say "Knot Me" to homophobia in sport," Mr Purchas said.
"We hope it will also encourage national and state sporting organisations and clubs to join the Pride in Sport Index."