Coming off of the video from former Wales International, Gareth Thomas made in reflection of his anti-gay assault last week. International Gay Rugby has launched an initiative to encourage all Rugby clubs, gay and straight, to wear their Rainbow Laces this week in the lead up to their weekend matches.
#RainbowLaces is part of a campaign launched by StonewallUK to “become an Active Ally for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in sport.” Essentially, to bring awareness and education for LGBT athletes participating in sports and encourage a more LGBT friendly culture within sports. Thomas’ anti-gay assault is just one example of how homophobia still is pervasive in our society, and as a recent EU wide study has shown homophobia and transphobia are still very much prevalent in sports.
After Thomas’ video was posted, International Gay Rugby encouraged all their member clubs as well as national teams, unions and World Rugby to come together and support rainbow laces. National Rugby Unions from all over the world are offering Rainbow Laces to their athletes, including Rugby Canada, England Rugby, Fédération Française de Rugby, Deutscher, Rugby-Verband, Federazione Italiana Rugby, All Blacks, Scottish Rugby, Rugby Spain, The, Welsh Rugby Union, USA Rugby.
The All Blacks Rugby Union is no stranger to standing up to homophobia when last spring they donned their usual black jerseys but with a little rainbow flair. The athletes also made a powerful video and have been outspoken against homophobia, so it seems very complementary to add some rainbow laces to their look.
Wearing the Rainbow Laces is completely voluntary for each player, unfortunately not everybody has been onboard with the campaign. With several England Underhill and Te’o teams not wearing them, saying that they are “uncomfortable” but whether this is meant figuratively or literally, has yet to be determined.
International Gay Rugby has encouraged all their member teams to wear their Rainbow Laces and has helped them get more attention in local media, specifically throughout the UK. Helping to spread the message and encourage more athletes to lace up in support of LGBT athletes.
By Dirk Smith