Zero tolerance for homophobic abuse call

Sally Shaw.
Sally Shaw.
A new report from the University of Otago recommends New Zealand’s sporting bodies should adopt a zero tolerance policy for homophobic abuse and other discriminatory behaviour.

The report titled "Anti-homophobia and inclusion policies in New Zealand Sport Organisations" was prepared by Dr Sally Shaw, of Otago University’s School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.

The report reviewed how six of the major national sporting bodies are dealing with inclusion and change policies in regards to homophobic abuse.

The six organisations were New Zealand Rugby, Netball New Zealand, Hockey New Zealand, New Zealand Rugby League, New Zealand Football and New Zealand Cricket.

The report found homophobia had been identified as an  issue by most of the organisations.

The report recommended organisations adopt clear anti-discrimination and inclusion policies and enforce education programmes, particularly in youth sport.

Dr Shaw  said there should be no tolerance for homophobic slurs used in derogatory ways or for physical bullying because of it.

The policies should cover all aspects of the sporting environment from players, coaches, administrators and supporting fans.

"There needs to be engagement from sport on all levels, right from grass-roots all the way to the top."

The report also recommended sporting bodies draw on work done by organisations in other countries.

It was important to posit a positive environment for all minorities, particularly lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people, so they feel welcome and willing to engage with the sporting community.

The report also recommended the bodies engage with LGB and other minorities, particularly in youth sport, and offer support.

Language was one such barrier for LGB athletes, as negative language could make the environment feel unsafe.

"You don’t have to go too far into the fans in any code to hear homophobic comments used to denigrate people on the pitch," Dr Shaw said.

It was vital to start early with education at schools and clubs and with youth sport.

Her report cited 2015 research which showed young LGB athletes were  far more likely to stay in the closet or no longer get involved with sport because of fear of bullying and discrimination.

Dr Shaw said the fact the organisations showed genuine devotion to bringing about change was a welcome finding.

It boded well for the challenging mission of creating a sports culture which does not tolerate homophobia in which LGB sports players and fans can feel welcome and included.

Comments

That a university should be calling for 'zero tolerance' on a speech matter is the truly worrying issue here. Ms Shaw's mother obviously never taught her about sticks and stones...

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