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Cricket Australia pledges to eliminate homophobia from sport

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Sydney, April 9 (IANS) Cricket Australia (CA) joined the Australian Football League, Australia Rugby Union, National Rugby League and Football Federation of Australia at a historic event Wednesday to commit to eliminating homophobia from sport.

The organisations collectively committed to tackle discrimination based on sexual orientation through the Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework. This includes an agreement to implement anti-homophobia and inclusion policies by the end of August to coincide with the Bingham Cup – the World Cup of Gay Rugby.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon, woman all-rounder Alex Blackwell and CA executive general manager (Media, Communications and Marketing) Ben Amarfio represented Australian cricket alongside representatives from other sports to pledge their support for the framework.

“We aspire for cricket to be a sport for all Australians. That means creating an environment that recognises, accepts and celebrates our differences. Cricket’s playing conditions state it should not only be played within the laws but also the spirit of the game including respect for teammates and opponents alike,” Amarfio said.

"It should go without saying that all athletes deserve to be treated equally and judged on their performances and contribution to their sport, not their sexual orientation."

Blackwell, who was the vice-captain of the winning Women's World Twenty20 Australia squad, said: "It’s a really significant day to see sport unite on this important issue. I’m proud that my sport is taking a leadership position in stamping out homophobia in sport.

"It’s about cricket creating a welcoming environment for all sections of our community regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs or sexuality. It’s a really positive step.”

Offie Lyon also echoed similar sentiments.

“Sport should be a place where everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or otherwise, feels supported and encouraged. As long as a teammate has the same desire, passion and commitment to the team as I do, that’s enough for me,” said Lyon.

Blackwell and Australia men’s head coach Darren Lehmann have signed up as ambassadors of the framework.

A 30-second anti-homophobia Community Service Announcement (CSA) was also premiered at the event. It featured Australian cricketers Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris, footballers Harry Kewell and Alessandro Del Piero, rugby players Paul Gallen, Nate Myles and David Pocock, hoopster Lauren Jackson, Nathan Jones and Sam Mitchell of Australian Rules Football, Kim Green (netball) and Libby Trickett (swimming).

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