Raising Fists Against Prejudice In Sport By Cheryl Roberts

8 May

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Sexuality and sport is experiencing some defining moments. There are moments when some national teams and players, like Africa’s women footballers, experience the authority of heterosexual domination, when coaches and officials impose sexual identity on athletes. And then, there’s the moment which surfaces athletes who’ve managed the confidence to speak publicly about their sexuality.

There’s no denying that homophobia, sexual prejudice and gender discrimination exist in sport. Sport can no longer be quiet or neutral about these negatives floating around and within sport. Waiting on organized sport to make statements denouncing homophobia and sexual prejudice and discrimination, could also mean waiting a lifetime. It’s imperative for voices to emerge and speak out against sexual prejudice and homophobia.

Grassroots voices and activism are emerging in Cape Town, South Africa, a city which has already buried several women footballers who became victims of hate, homophobia and sexual prejudice. On Saturday, 4 May 2013, grassroots organization, Freegender held a Sports Day, in Guguletu, Cape Town, themed ‘Sport Against Homophobia’. The Sports Day was organised by volunteers, all of whom are sports fans and participate in sport. Noluvuyo Ndamase was the chief volunteer who pulled it together as the event organizer and managed to host an event with no sponsorship. The grassroots event attracted many community-based teams, players and sports officials.

This was no ordinary or any other sports event. This Sports Day was organised to emphasise that homophobia, prejudice and discrimination must not be tolerated in sport, that people who participate in sport must be able to do so without fear of being discriminated against because of their sexuality, that whatever their colour, class, sexual identity to play sport without fear of being victims of hate and prejudice.

Women and girls play sport, and participate in sport as athletes, coaches, officials, umpires and referees, fans and spectators, supporters and volunteers. We play sport to enjoy the game, not to become another victim or survivor of abuse and hate. Gender discrimination, sexual prejudice and homophobia are very much alive in sport in South Africa, in Africa and around the world. Working class girls and women in sport are particularly vulnerable to hate and sexual prejudice attacks.

These vicious, brutal attacks on women in sport and our sportswomen are very much attached to patriarchy and the arrogant assumption of heterosexism to assume that all women in sport should embrace patriarchy and heterosexuality. It is the assumption by men to believe, in their small minds, they have the ‘right’ to own and control women’s bodies.

We have had enough of prejudice, hate and homophobia in sport. We demand these evils be eliminated! We ask South African sport to have a consciousness which doesn’t prejudice and discriminate against women in sport. We demand that homophobia exist no more in sport. (Photo’s By:

A declaration against homophobia in sport was adopted and signed at the Sport Day. The ‘Declaration Against Homophobia in Sport’ says:

“We, the undersigned respect the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa which states that “no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation….”

Gender discrimination, sexual prejudice and homophobia are very much alive in sport in our local teams in our province.

We believe our sportswomen, whatever their colour, class, sexual identity deserve o play sport without fear of being victims of hate and prejudice.

We, therefore, resolve to condemn all and discrimination against any person on the basis of sexual orientation.

We pledge to promote a better understanding that each person, regardless of sexual orientation, “is equal in the sport and have a right to participate in any team of her choice.”

(Photographs by: Lindeka Qampi)

ImageImage Lindeka Qampi)Imagey: Lindeka Qampi)ImageImage


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