An Australian professor is calling for the All Blacks to start an anti-homophobic campaign in a bid to stamp out gay slurs.
Monash University’s Sport Inclusion researcher Erik Denison told Newstalk in New Zealand that people would listen to the All Blacks given their international celebrity status.
A recent Australian study, that surveyed many Kiwi players, revealed that homophobic language runs deep in sport culture, with comments like “gay” and “poof” regularly used among sportspeople.
Last week, Wallabies player Israel Folau had his contract terminated after he came under fire for anti-gay posts he made on social media. His comments sparked a storm of controversy and focused attention of homophobia.
— Newstalk ZB (@NewstalkZB) May 23, 2019
And the Crusaders Super Rugby team are currently embroiled in claims several players made fun of a gay man in a South African fast food restaurant while on tour, imitating his voice and making limp wrist gestures.
The players have denied the allegations but Rugby New Zealand has launched an independent investigation to examine the claims.
Monash University’s Sport Inclusion researcher Erik Denison told Newstalk ZB people in sport and wider New Zealand would listen to the All Blacks if they were to launch a campaign to stamp out homophobia.
Alongside NZ Rugby we are jointly reviewing allegations about player behaviour in South Africa. We are distraught about the accusations but because of their serious nature we are formalising the investigation to allow both sides to be heard – https://t.co/f24oj5pFXe
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) May 21, 2019
The All Blacks needed to talk to communities about the harm homophobic language could cause – be it on or off the field. Denison said it should be easy to stop the language if high-profile people, like the All Blacks, got behind such a campaign.
The Australian study into homophobic culture in sport raised concern over the continued use of homophobic language among young Kiwi and Australian rugby players – despite New Zealand Rugby’s push for zero tolerance and public backlash from the Israel Folau saga.
The research found that 75 per cent of the Kiwi and Australian teenage rugby players surveyed had heard derogatory words such as “fag” and “poof” used in the past two weeks, with 53 per cent admitting to having used the slurs themselves.
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) May 17, 2019
“There is an alarming number of players and coaches using the language,” Denison told the New Zealand Herald. “Coaches, especially, are normalising the language.
“It creates an environment and culture that is not fun and is one of the main reasons gay and straight people leave the sport. It’s not banter. It’s harmful and we need to focus on the harm it can cause.”
Denison said homophobic language coincided with homophobic attitudes. The attitude had gone, but the homophobic language was still being used as normalised language, he said.
WATCH: The fall-out from the Crusaders controversy in South Africa
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