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Rugby has just taken a huge gay rights step

Rugby has just taken a huge gay rights step

One of the toughest, brutal sports in the world, rugby, has just taken a huge gay rights step.

World Rugby and International Gay Rugby have signed a historic agreement agreeing to collaborate to ensure the game promotes equality and inclusivity.

They have committed that any player, official or fan will never face discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, and to ensure all homophobia is eliminated.

They are hoping to inspire other global sporting organizations to make the same steps.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: ‘Rugby is an inclusive sport which has at its heart character-building values of passion, integrity, solidarity, respect and discipline. The signing of this historic agreement underscores our commitment to those values and our strategic vision – a game for all, true to its values.’

International Gay Rugby Chairman Jeff Wilson said: ‘This is a momentous occasion for LGBT athletes, supporters, officials and administrators and the people who support them in the game of rugby.’

Gareth Thomas is so far the only professional rugby player to come out as gay.

‘It’s been really tough for me, hiding who I really am and I don’t want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby or some frightened young kid,’ he said in 2009.

‘I’m not going on a crusade but I’m proud of who I am. I feel I have achieved everything I could ever possibly have hoped to achieve out of rugby and I did it being gay. I want to send a positive message to other gay people that they can do it, too.’

He continued to play for two years until he retired to focus on sports broadcasting and gay rights advocacy.