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Australian Rugby Union backs inclusion as gay world cup kicks off

AFP
Fans of the Sydney Convicts, an all-gay rugby team, cheer as they play against Macquarie University at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on July 6, 2014
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Fans of the Sydney Convicts, an all-gay rugby team, cheer as they play against Macquarie University at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on July 6, 2014 (AFP Photo/Peter Parks)

Sydney (AFP) - The Australian Rugby Union Friday endorsed a new inclusion policy designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in the sport as the world cup of gay rugby kicked off in Sydney.

The ARU last year became the first major Australian sporting code to commit to developing an inclusion policy.

In April the leaders of Australia's sporting codes signed a collective commitment to stamp out homophobia in each of their respective sports.

"We've worked with a number of stakeholders to develop our inclusion policy, most particularly the organisers of the 2014 Bingham Cup, who were instrumental in putting a framework together earlier this year," ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement.

"Our new inclusion policy reinforces Australian rugby's commitment to ensuring every individual, whether they're players, supporters, coaches or administrators, feel safe, welcome and included, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.

"Over the next few months we'll start implementing our policy to ensure everyone involved in our game at all levels is aware of it and understands our expectations.

"There is absolutely no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words, both on and off the field, must reflect this."

The ARU announcement coincided with the launch of the 2014 Bingham Cup where thousands of international rugby players, fans and media gather in Sydney for the world cup of gay rugby.

Bingham Cup ambassador and current Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper expressed his support for the tournament.

"I'm extremely proud to be part of an event which is challenging stereotypes and the 2014 Bingham Cup is an excellent chance to foster further growth for the initiative," Ashley-Cooper said.

"Freeing Australian sport of discrimination is crucial and I'm looking forward to supporting players from around the world as they band together for a great cause."

The Bingham Cup, featuring 24 teams from 15 countries, runs from Friday to Sunday.

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