GIANTS midfielder Dylan Shiel has committed to stopping homophobia in sport as part of the #RainbowLaces campaign this weekend.
Shiel - along with a host of ambassadors from other sports - will wear rainbow laces during their respective matches to help raise awareness with the hope of making sporting environments more inclusive places.
The campaign, led by Pride in Diversity, Australia's first and only national not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion, is also strongly supported by global sportswear company, Skins.
Shiel joined fellow ambassadors Max Burgess (Sydney FC), Nathan Peats (Parramatta Eels), Sharni Layton (NSW Swifts and Diamonds), Michelle Heyman (Matildas) and Matt Toomua (Brumbies) at a press conference this morning to launch the ‘Rainbow Round of Sport’.
“Partnering with Skins we’re tackling homophobia in sports,” Shiel said.
“There’s some alarming statistics around homophobia and that’s something that needs to be addressed immediately.
“It’s fantastic to have some elite talent from across all codes involved because ultimately professional sport in Australia has a massive impact on society.”
The ‘Rainbow Round of Sport’ aims to highlight the issues around homophobia in sport by inviting athletes and teams to wear #RainbowLaces this weekend, from March 31 through to April 4.
A 2015 global study commissioned by Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 in conjunction with Repucom entitled “Out on the Fields” showed the extent of homophobic attitudes and behaviour in sport.
Around 9,500 people were surveyed in the study, more than 3,000 of them from Australia.
Of the Australian respondents: 80 per cent said they had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport while 70% believed that youth team sports were neither safe nor supportive for LGB people.
Amazingly only 2 per cent believed that LGB people were accepted within sporting culture and 78% thought that an openly LGB person would not be safe as a spectator.
You can show your support on social media by using the #RainbowLaces and #KnotMe hashtags.
If you’re involved with a community sporting organisation, you can get your own #RainbowLaces for free via registering at www.rainbowlaces.net.
For individuals, head along to Rebel or AMart stores where you can pick-up a pair for free until stocks last.