Gay rugby club ex­hi­bi­tion

The New Age (Gauteng) - - NEWS - LIL­LIAN SELAPISA lil­lians@the­

THE first ever all­in­clu­sive com­pet­i­tive club, the Jozi Cats Rugby Club, is set to host an ex­hi­bi­tion match on Hu­man Rights Day to pro­mote and high­lights hu­man rights, es­pe­cially for the les­bian gay bi­sex­ual trans­gen­der and queer (LGBTQ) com­mu­nity.

The club, which is in­clu­sive of peo­ple of dif­fer­ent sex­ual ori­en­ta­tions, said through the match and the club, they want to create a com­mu­nity of like­minded peo­ple to come to­gether in a ha­rass­ment-free en­vi­ron­ment.

Vice chair­per­son of the club An­thony Seger said the match was meant to raise both funds and aware­ness of equal­ity.

“We are invit­ing ev­ery­one to come and ex­pe­ri­ence what it is like to be in an in­clu­sive rugby club. We want to spread aware­ness about hu­man rights and ap­peal to ev­ery­one from all walks of life to come en­joy the day,” Seger day.

The rugby match has been themed #PrideInRugby, which is also a cam­paign against ho­mo­pho­bia in rugby. The club has part­nered with the South African Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (SAHRC).

The com­mis­sion said the match was part of the ac­tiv­i­ties planned for Hu­man Rights Month to cel­e­brate hu­man rights and pro­mote the val­ues of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

SAHRC spokesper­son Gail Smith said it was im­por­tant as it is in­tended to raise aware­ness of in­equal­ity on and off the rugby field, ed­u­cate against ho­mo­pho­bia and dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity and ex­pres­sion and ad­vo­cate for the ac­cep­tance and re­spect for hu­man rights in gen­eral.

“Sport has on many oc­ca­sions, proven to be a uni­fier in South Africa. When South Africa achieved the im­pos­si­ble in 1995, by host­ing and win­ning the first Rugby World Cup it par­tic­i­pated in since its iso­la­tion from in­ter­na­tional sport­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion, it took a sport that was largely viewed as the purview of white males and turned it into a fo­cus of na­tional pride and unity,” Smith said.

The com­mis­sion wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with a rugby club that pro­vides sports peo­ple, who are also part of a broader vul­ner­a­ble group of LGBTI and gen­der non-con­form­ing peo­ple, with a safe place to com­pete.

Chair­per­son of Jozi Cats Chris Ver­ri­jdt said the South African rugby en­vi­ron­ment can be in­tim­i­dat­ing and even hos­tile to­wards LGBTI par­tic­i­pants.

“To date, there have been no openly gay rugby play­ers or of­fi­cials in high level rugby in the coun­try.

The par­tic­i­pa­tion of Jozi Cats in for­mal rugby struc­tures can there­fore play a role in re­duc­ing dam­ag­ing stereo­types, en­cour­ag­ing greater par­tic­i­pa­tion of LGBTI peo­ple in rugby and fos­ter­ing good­will in the sport which can re­duce dis­crim­i­na­tion in the fu­ture,” Ver­ridt said.


RAIS­ING AWARE­NESS: Mem­bers of the Jozi Cats Rugby Club will host an ex­hi­bi­tion match to pro­mote LGBTQ+ rights.

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