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Rugby code backs Australian campaign to end homophobia

An Australian television campaign calling on people to stand up to homophobic abuse has received the backing of one of country’s most popular sporting codes

A new Australian campaign tackling homophobia has been endorsed by the Australian Football League (AFL) rugby code.

The No To Homophobia campaign was launched at the Victorian state parliament today by the Victorian Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge and the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay.

Wooldridge said it was everyone's responsibility to take action on homophobic attitudes.

‘This is a call to action in relation to saying no to homophobia,’ Wooldridge said.

A commercial promoting the campaign will screen nation wide on Australian television for a period of 12 months.

The commercial shows a range of homophobic incidents in workplaces and in the community and reminds people that ‘anybody can report this behavior.’

Campaign spokeswoman Anna Brown told the Brisbane Times that it was a ‘community driven grassroots campaign.’

‘The consequences of this harassment can last a lifetime,’ Brown said.

‘We’re really encouraging the community to understand that we all have a responsibility to stand up to homophobic harassment wherever it occurs, and even if we’re not the target ourselves, so if you witness harassment and do nothing, you’re condoning it.’

The campaign comes just weeks after a high profile fining of an AFL player for using a homophobic slur on the field.

St Kilda player Stephen Milne was fined $3,000 for calling another player a ‘f*cking homo’ during a game at the beginning of August.

Milne is a repeat offender and was fined in 2010 for making another homophobic comment to a referee.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou hoped his code’s support for the campaign made LGBT Australians feel they were welcome at AFL games.

‘A campaign of this nature promoting respect for each other, healthy relationships and a safe, inclusive environment is imperative if we are to affect positive cultural change,’ Demetriou said.

‘We believe the AFL is one game for all Australians … Through both our actions and the guidelines that govern our game, we are committed to providing a truly inclusive, safe and welcoming environment that fosters healthy, respectful relationships on and off the field.’

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