Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is backing a bid for the country to hold a gay rugby world cup contest.
The Sydney Convicts, a rugby club whose members are mostly gay men, will this week submit their bid to host the Bingham Cup in 2014.
‘Australia is a sports-loving nation which also has an abiding commitment to diversity and mutual respect,’ said Gillard, who has been criticized for her refusal to back gay marriage proposals.
‘In recent years, Sydney has hosted the gay games, the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup with a remarkable spirit of openness and celebration.
The Convicts, who were crowned proud champions of this year’s Bingham Cup in the UK, say they are also canvassing support from other politicians and Australia’s national rugby team The Wallabies.
‘It is very clear that homophobia is quite rampant in the footy codes and many of the Convicts players would not be playing rugby if it was not for the Convicts,’ Convicts founder and bid committee chairman Andrew Purchas told Eurosport.
The Bingham Cup, which was held in the English city of Manchester in June, is the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby teams and is the largest men’s 15-aside rugby union tournament in the sporting calendar outside of the IRB Rugby World Cup.
Named after gay rugby player Mark Bingham who died on United Airlines Flight 93 during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, the Bingham Cup welcomes teams from 15 countries ranging from Australia and Canada to France and Portugal.