Gay rugby club exhibition
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.