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Australia to ban homophobia in sports

A draft national Australian anti-discrimination law could see homophobic abuse in the sporting world made illegal, but churches will still be able to legally exclude anyone they want

Homophobic taunts by spectators, anti-gay on-field sledging between players and homophobic harassment in locker rooms could all be banned soon in Australia under the government’s draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill.

The bill would bring all current national anti-discrimination protections in Australia under a single law and outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity at a national level in the country for the first time.

Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission president Gillian Triggs warned on Friday that players, coaches and spectators would all need to ensure they behaved reasonably.

‘Abuse on the sporting ground or abuse by a spectator would constitute, in an appropriate circumstance, harassment,’ Triggs told News Ltd newspapers.

‘It may be amateur, but it's still in the public arena … If a coach were to act in a homophobic way, like abusing a player and calling him a `poofter', and made life difficult in the change room so he's totally demoralized, you would start to see that as either harassment or ultimately employment discrimination.’

The change would see homophobic abuse treated with the same gravity that on-field racial abuse is currently treated with in Australia.

However the Australian Government has given assurances to religious groups that their ability to legally discriminate against any person they feel is incompatible with their faiths will go unchanged.

This means that religious groups and businesses that they own such as hospitals, private schools, retirement homes and banks and insurance companies will continue to be able to fire and refuse to hire gays and lesbians and refuse to provide services to them.

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