Top Australian sporting stars will wear rainbow laces this weekend as part of a campaign against homophobia, BBC reports. The initiative is inspired by similar movements in other countries including Britain. Openly gay athletes are rare in mainstream Australian sport – no male has come out while playing in the country’s four main football codes.
Almost 80% of participants in an international study last year witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport. To try to counter this, sports stars will wear the distinctive rainbow-coloured laces at major fixtures on Saturday and Sunday in Australia.
Big names from football, rugby union, rugby league, Australian Rules football and netball are taking part. More than 100,000 thousand pairs of laces have been given to professionals and amateurs.
Among those involved is Australian rugby international David Pocock, who last year complained to a referee about homophobic abuse being dished out by a rival player in a match. Another rugby union star, Matt Toomua, who helped launch the campaign, said: “The fact most gay players come out after they’ve retired says something [about sport].
“There’s a reason for that. If that’s the case, we want to create an environment where that’s not what’s happening,” The Age quoted him as saying. Champion surfer Joel Parkinson is also showing his support by wearing a rainbow leg rope at a major tournament.