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2016-05-13:
Belgian Rugby – Proud to be Inclusive

 
 

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The Belgian Rugby Federation (FBRB) has today become the first federation in Europe to sign an anti-homophobia agreement with International Gay Rugby and Straffe Ketten RFC, Belgium's only inclusive rugby team.

It follows similar agreements signed by World Rugby, USA Rugby and the Australian Rugby Federation. In the text, the FBRB formally outlines its intolerance of homophobia and pledges to work together with Straffe Ketten to combat discrimination and continue the promotion of equality and inclusivity in the game.

The Memorandum of Understanding, which enters into force today, comes on the eve of the Belgian Pride and exactly one week before the Bingham Cup - the World Championship of Gay/Inclusive Rugby - kicks off in Nashville, Tennessee.

To mark the singing of the agreement Straffe Ketten RFC have invited all of the rugby teams in Belgium to join them at Pride.be where they will be marching alongside Michel Coric, the President of the FBRB.

"By nature, rugby should be open to everyone. It is a shame that discrimination still exists in sport but here in rugby we are reaffirming our openness, and reaffirming it loudly!" Michel said.

"We’re proud to have the Straffe Ketten playing in the Belgian Rugby Federation, we’re proud to have gay people playing rugby in Belgium and we will continue to fight against any kind of discrimination. Playing rugby makes better people and I hope that more people from all walks of life will continue to discover the joys of the game."

Jeff Wilson, Chairman of International Gay Rugby commented: "As we look forward to the biggest Bingham Cup yet next week in Nashville it is fantastic to have some positive news to announce from this side of the pond. This agreement is the first of its kind in Europe and I hope will inspire other European national rugby unions to come out publicly denouncing homophobia in sport."

Straffe Ketten RFC was founded in 2010 and is currently the only member of International Gay Rugby in Belgium. The team began as a social group for gay men practicing in the park but is now a full member of the FBRB and reached the semi-finals of the Wallonia Regional III league this year. Straffe Ketten remains active in the LGBTI community and aims to provide an space for everyone to feel comfortable playing rugby regardless of sexual orientation, religion, culture, ethnic origin, social background or level of rugby.

Miguel Gallardo, President of Straffe Ketten RFC said: "Rugby has always been a sport of exceptional tolerance and respect. This agreement is testament to the overwhelmingly positive reaction that we have had in the Belgian rugby community since the team began. We hope that it will help continue the promotion of non-discrimination in rugby as well as acting as an example of good practice to other sports where sadly homophobia and other discrimination is much more commonplace."

 

 

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