Monday, 13 February 2012

Leading rugby ref comes out

A leading rugby league referee has become only the second person involved with the Australian game to come out.

Matt Cecchin, who has taken charge of the National Rugby League's grand final, said he was inspired after reading a book by former Aussie rugby star Ian Roberts, who is also gay.

The general acceptance following the announcement is a sure sign that being gay is no barrier to anyone wanting to take part in one of Australia's most popular sports.

His reasons for the timing, which was delayed until after his teenage son finished exams, also is a sign that he thinks way beyond the game's borders.

The comments in the interview with the Herald Sun are so powerful that it is best repeating.

Mr Cecchin said: “Like a lot of people, I thought to be gay you had to be feminine, you had to go to nightclubs and you had to be in the scene, and I was never into that.

"I played sport, I loved rugby league, I liked going to the pub with my mates. It wasn't until I read Ian's book that I started to tick a few boxes.

"I'd be very surprised if I was the only gay person in rugby league. But me coming out has nothing to do with other people in rugby league.

"It has to do with the youth who are growing up today and may be going through a whole world of hurt and fear.

"My experience is they don't need to be. People are OK with it now."

The Justin Campaign wants to offer its public support to the decision taken by Mr Cecchin. Such open comments from the referee are extremely refreshing.

Cecchin coming out is exactly how it should be: timed for when a person is ready and for the right reasons. Publicly accepting you are a member of the LGBT community is a big step and should never be taken on somebody else's terms.

We hope that this marks an important step in the game which some people see as adverse to LGBT issues. Given the public support that Ian Roberts received with other players saying it was important to be "true to yourself", there is no reason why Cecchin's decision can be further proof that sexuality is no barrier to forging a successful career in the sporting world.

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