Since the fall of apartheid, South Africa has introduced progressive policies that have advanced the rights and freedoms of sexual minorities. Key successes include:
- The Constitutional prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1996;
- 1998 Employment Equity Act preventing labour discrimination based on sexual orientation;
- 2000 Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act; and
- The introduction of same-sex civil marriages in 2006.
In spite of the significant legislative progress which has been made, many LGBTI South Africans continue to face discrimination, social stigma and even homophobic violence. Negative stereotypes about LGBTI people persist in many sections of society, affecting the ability of people to pursue their passions and lead fulfilled lives.
The South African rugby environment can be intimidating and even hostile towards LGBTI participants. To date there have been no openly gay rugby players or officials in high level rugby in the country. The participation of Jozi Cats in formal rugby structures can therefore play a role in reducing damaging stereotypes, encouraging greater participation of LGBTI people in rugby and fostering goodwill in the sport which can reduce discrimination in the future.
Increasingly overseas professional sportsmen are coming out as gay or bisexual but their journeys are all fraught with anxiety, contemplation of suicide, locker room environments which are not conducive to LGBTI players and the fear of what being inadvertently “outed” and the related homophobia would do to their professional careers. High profile gay or bisexual rugby players include: Gareth Thomas (Welsh Rugby legend, former Captain of Welsh Rugby and British Lions), Nigel Owens (World Cup 2015 Final referee), Sam Stanley (Saracens, UK), Keeghan Hirst (Batley Bulldogs, UK).
Gay Rugby Associations
Contact Person: Neil Pyper (also social media rep for International Gay Rugby)
International Gay Rugby
Contact Person: Greg Holmes as Southern Africa Representative