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
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
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