Carlton Australian Football League club (AFL) midfield player Brock McLean has gone public with his support for his lesbian sister Ellie in an effort to combat homophobia in the sport and has called for fans who yell homophobic taunts to be banned from the sport.
‘The AFL needs to adopt a total zero-tolerance policy from grassroots footy right up to the elite level,’ Brock told Melbourne’s The Age newspaper this week.
‘If there's anyone yelling homophobic taunts, those people should be banned from footy for life. You hear, “you weak poof, you faggot” from supporters who use it as a term for someone who might go in soft or might not be as hard at the ball, which is just mind-blowing because it's totally irrelevant and totally far from the truth.’
‘AFL players who do it should be made an example of, fined and suspended. We need to say this isn't acceptable and set an example not just for the football community but for the rest of the community.
‘The AFL's the biggest sport in Australia. They're in a powerful position to promote equality and treating everyone the same regardless of whether they're gay or straight. They're dipping their toe in with this issue but really they need to put their whole body in.’
Brock spoke to the Age with sister Ellie McLean who told the newspaper that she had hid her sexuality from her own family for years out of fear that her brother would become a target for abuse within the sport if her sexuality became public knowledge.
‘Guys are always paying out on each other on the footy field and I didn't want him to be embarrassed or cop any abuse,’ Ellie told the paper.
Brock has announced that he will become the first professional AFL player to march in Melbourne’s annual Pride March next Sunday where he will be marching with a group of LGBT amateur footballers.
Brock has also announced his intention to join the Athlete Ally program which encourages acceptance of LGBTs in sports.
Earlier this month Australian rugby star player David Pocock became the first high profile Australian to join the Athlete Ally program, following on the heels of US gridiron players Scott Fujita, Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo.