Welsh national rugby team takes a stand against homophobic abuse

The Welsh national squad and the Welsh Rugby Union have joined Stonewall's NoBystanders campaign to help tackle abuse and bullying. The move comes after openly-gay referee Nigel Owens was subjected to homophobic abuse at Twickenham. Rugby’s finest have now taken a stand by joining thousands of individuals and organisations who are backing the NoBystanders anti-bullying campaign.

Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric
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Shocking figures show that more than 75,000 young people will be bullied this year simply for being gay, and 21,000 will attempt suicide. Homophobic bullying and abuse can have a devastating impact on young people’s self-esteem, with one in three who experience homophobic bullying changing their plans for future education because of it. It can also escalate from playground name-calling to grown-up violence.

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Spectators at Saturday’s Dove Men’s Series International Match will be asked to join the squad in the campaign. The sell-out crowd at Cardiff’s 74,000-seat Millennium Stadium will be shown Stonewall’s NoBystanders campaign video, featuring Sir Ian McKellen.

Andrew White, Stonewall Cymru Director said: ‘Every year 75,000 young people are bullied for being gay. That’s one young person for every seat in the Millennium Stadium.

‘The support of the Wales squad in calling out bullying language sends a message to thousands of supporters that we all have a part to play in stopping bullying. It’s time we all speak up and stop being bystanders to abuse.’

Nigel Owens, International Rugby Referee said: ‘I’m pleased to see the reaction of the rugby community against homophobic and other harmful language. I believe we all have to call out this language for the damage that it does.

‘Recently comments were thrown at me as I was simply doing my job. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me – you get disappointed and down, it gets to you. We are only human and when people say horrible things about you, it gets in your mind.

‘It’s a situation that too many people face in their own workplaces, schools and community. I won’t be a bystander to abuse and I hope that fans of the game will really get behind this campaign.’

WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said: ‘We are proud of the traditional values of rugby – of friendly camaraderie between players and supporters and also of respect towards players, fans and match officials. It is important we work hard to retain those values as they are genuine qualities of our national game and enable our sport to stand out from the crowd.‘

More information about Stonewall’s NoBystanders campaign can be found here www.nobystanders.org.uk

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