Harlequins will become the first professional rugby team to host a LGBTQ+ Pride themed match this weekend

More than two-thirds of male rugby union players have heard team-mates use homophobic slurs in the past two weeks, says research backed by Harlequins.

The Premiership club and Australia’s Monash University also found that 42% of male players surveyed have used such slurs themselves in the past fortnight.

Quins host London Irish on Saturday in an LGBTQ+ Pride-themed fixture.

“Harlequins is a club for all and we believe sport should be too,” said Quins chief executive Laurie Dalrymple.

“The club is proud to lead efforts to make sport inclusive and develop evidence based programs to ensure every young person can play and enjoy sport.”

While 69% of the male players surveyed had heard homophobic language from team-mates in the past fortnight, 67% said they had ‘close’ gay friends.

“Most rugby players say they use the homophobic language to get a laugh out of others, or fit in on their team, and it seems they don’t realise how harmful this language is to gay people, or to the team culture generally,” Erik Denison, one of the researchers at Monash University leading international studies on this issue, said.

“It was very interesting to see most want the language to stop being used, but don’t realise everyone else on their team feels the same way.”

Harlequins said the study analysed data collected from 275 male and female rugby players – aged between 16 and 42 – from eight randomly selected rugby clubs in the south of England in January and February this year.

The findings from the research will be used to help develop programmes to stop the use of homophobic language in all sports.


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