Darren Lehmann supports CA's stance to stamp out homophobia in sport
Sydney, May 17: Australia coach Darren Lehmann has backed Cricket Australia's (CA) stance in stamping out homophobia in sport.
"Everyone's entitled to their sexuality ... so from my point of view we've got to stamp it out right now, socially, also in our sport - and it happens in all sports I'm sure - and make it acceptable for people to be who they are," he was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Sunday.
"There's nothing wrong with that."
Lehmann spoke on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, which since 2004 has been drawing attention to the violence and discrimination faced by these minorities in everyday society, including the sporting sphere.
Cricket Australia’s initiative to fight homophobia
Last week, CA welcomed the release of "Out on the Fields", a study into the issue, which found that only one per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual athletes felt they were "completely accepted" in sport.
"Cricket Australia runs us through some programs to make sure we're aware of our social responsibilities, and also what's right and what's wrong, I think it's very important that Cricket Australia (learn from) the studies, because that gives us direct feedback for our sport," Lehmann said.
"I want Cricket Australia to lead the way all the time in these sorts of surveys, outcomes and make sure we are going down the right path socially."
Nearly 9500 participants of all sexualities took part in the study, including more than 3000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual Australians.
The study focused on issues of sexuality in team sports and compared the six major English-speaking countries.
Australia was the least-welcoming of all countries for gay men in sports teams, and also rated poorly on a global scale in terms of gay athletes opting to remain "in the closet" for fear of bullying or discrimination, including by coaches or officials.
No place for homophobia in sports: Sutherland
While Lehmann said he had never been in the situation in which a cricketer had "come out", he restated that he would happily support the individual.
"No I haven't had anyone come out, but I'm sure it's going to happen one day and as I've said before, I will totally support that, as will all our staff, and Cricket Australia will be really supportive - as we should be," he stated.
Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland said the study showed sport still had much work to do to tackle homophobia and CA was committed to doing so.
"The findings of the study are concerning. But the support of the study by Australian cricket - and sport more broadly - shows we are eager to better understand homophobia in sport and take action against it," Sutherland said.
"There is simply no place for homophobia in society - and in particular sport - and we are committed to eradicating it through better education and training at grassroots level," he added.