Sydney, Jan 19: A new anti-discrimination law in Australia will now prosecute sports spectators who harass sportsmen with homophobic insults.
The Federal Government’s draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill is set to bring in a legal ban on harassment in sport on the grounds of sexual orientation, Telegraph.com.au reports.
Kate Carnell, chief executive of depression awareness group Beyond Blue, said that research has proved that only a small percent young gay Australians felt safe in their sport and the rest, even elite level football players, hid their sexuality to avoid abuse from coaches, fellow players or spectators.
Carnell also said that homophobia should be removed from sports in the same manner as racism has been removed.
According to Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission president Gillian Triggs, if a coach acted in a homophobic manner like calling insulting names to a player and demoralizing him then it may be seen as a case of employment discrimination.
Australian Football League (AFL) spokesman Patrick Keane said that defaming players and officials on the grounds of ‘sexual orientation, preference or identity’ had been banned since 2009, under Rule 30 of the game.
National Rugby League spokesman David Taylor also said that rugby did not condone any form of discrimination.
A sports player alleging discrimination could be taken to the Federal Court, which has the power to order the offender to pay damages to the victim.
In 2010, former AFL star Jason Akermanis was suspended after claiming that ‘the world of AFL footy is not ready’ for a gay player to come out, as it ‘could break the fabric of a club’. (ANI)