Help end homophobia in sport
The acceptance and inclusion of gay people has improved dramatically in western society.. However, sporting culture remains one of the last pockets where gay people feel unwelcome.
Over the past five years, I've been the volunteer Public Relations and Communications Manager with the Sydney Convicts, Australia's first gay rugby union team and Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, the world cup of gay rugby.
We've been running a campaign to end homophobia in sport that has had impact well beyond Australia's borders.
You can read more about the campaign and also my own story in this article by the Sydney Morning Herald.
One of the most exciting results of our work is that sporting officials in Australia have dramatically changed how they deal with homophobia. About 18 months ago slurs such as 'faggot' or 'dyke' were often ignored by officials.. now players who use them recieve $20,000 fines!
The success of our campaign has attracted interest from around the world. Organisations in Canada, the UK, Ireland, USA and New Zealand are keen to learn about our approach and hopefully, achieve similar results in their own countries.
This is where you can help and why this Crown Funding campaing has been launched.
Our campaign has recently won two international awards, including the top international PR award in the world: a Golden World award from the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).
We have been invited to attend the IPRA World Congress of PR leaders in South Africa, in September, to receive the award. We are also in the running to win two other awards at the World Congress (including one from the UN).
While attending the award ceremony is important, it would be much better if we could attend the full world congress. This is an incredible opportunity to meet PR leaders from around the world. The goal would be to share information about the success of our campaing and inspire them to provide pro bono support for similar anti-homophobia in sport campaigns in their own countries. We will then connect these PR leaders with the LGBTI organisations who have contacted us from various countries. Having PR support will be critical to the success of anti-homophobia in sport campaigns in other countries.
How do we know we will find PR Leaders willing to Help?
We've already seen success from this tactic.
As mentioned, we won two awards. The first was from PR Week Asia, the top award in the Asia Pacific. We attended the award ceremony in Hong Kong in May and also generated some media around the award.
Since then, two large PR firms have approached us wanting to help LGBTI organisations in the Asia Pacific region work on homophobia in sport campaigns. The most promising of the two was a PR firm we met, in person, at the Hong Kong ceremony.
Here is a bit of media about this:
How Will The Money Be Used?
- Registration for the World Congress
I hope you can contribute. We have nearly reached our goal. There is more information about the campaign below. Please feel free to send through any questions.
Timeline of the campaign and what has been achieved
We teamed up with government to create somethign called ‘The Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework' which is a document that provides very clear instructions to sporting organisations to help them not only end homophobia but actually change sporting culture to ensure gay people feel welcome in sports
Link to the Framework
The heads of all five Australian professional Australian sports (Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Aussie Rules, Rugby League) signed a joint commitment last April, 2014 to 'eliminate homophobia' and adopt the changes contained in the ‘Framework.’
This was the first time the world that every major sport in a country has done this. It was covered by a heap of international media .. from CNN to Buzz Feed to LGBT Weekly.
Professional sports stars also attended the press conference and said we need to 'de-normalise' homophobia in sport.
The media challenged sporting organisations around the world to follow the lead of Australian sports..
Story from Reuters about the Australian Sport commitment
We initiated and managed the first international and largest ever conducted study on homophobia in sport called "Out on the Fields." It was overseen by seven international experts from six universities. The Gay Games and You Can Play were partners.
The study was the first international and largest ever conducted. 9500 people took part (25% straight) thanks to the support from many athletes who encouraged people to take part in the study.
We released the final report from the study. It can be found on this landing page: www.outonthefields.com
Here is an infographic of the international results. We created one for each English speaking country:
The study results were widely covered in 32 countries and 8 languages including ESPN, The Advocate, Time Magazine, Gay News Network, CNN, BBC, NY Times, China’s Central News Agency, Daily Mail, New Zealand Herald, Toronto Star, ABC and by media in countries were being gay remains illegal, such as Kenya and India.
Story by The Advocate
USA Today Full Page Article
The study results and the success of our campaign has generated massive interest from sporting organisations, academics, schools and LGBTI organisations around the world.
World Rugby is the first 'World Sporting Body' to formally agree to 'eradicate' homophobia and run education programs around the world. Our campaign led to them signing a formal committment to 'eradicate' homophobia and introduce education programs around the world.
Other high profile athletes from other sports, such as openly gay professional soccer player Robbie Rogers, are challenging other world sports to do the same.
The study also put the need to address homophobia in sport on the agenda in other countries such as New Zealand, the country where gay athletes are the most likely to 'stay in the closet,' I recently 'briefed' New Zealand Rugby Union and five other sports about the work in Australia.
Our campaign recently won Gold for 'Public Education Campaign of the Year' at the PR Week Asia Awards, the top comptition in the Asia Pacific region.
In September we will also receive the top international award for a public relations campaign from the International Public Relations Association. Winning a "Golden World Award" for this work will dramatically elevate the issue of homophobia in sports as something PR experts see as worthy of working on Pro Bono. It was difficult for us to find PR agencies willing to help us.
As you see by all the media above, generating media coverage was CRITICAL to motivating action to address homophobia. It will be essential for LGBTI groups in other countries to have help from media and PR experts.
Attending the World Congress in September in South Africa is a great opportunity to meet with PR people from around the world who may be interested in helping and homophobia in sport. They can then be connected to the LGBTI groups in their countries.
These two awards follow others received earlier this year. The Bingham Cup was the first LGBTI event to win “Event of the Year” from the sporting industry at the NSW Sports Awards. The Bingham Cup organising committee was also chosen as the “Community Organisation of the Year” at the NSW Honour Awards, which recognises achievement within the LGBTI community