Gareth Thomas support shows power of LGBT allies, says Stonewall director
Rugby union's backing for Rainbow Laces following a homophobic assault on Gareth Thomas shows value of campaign, says Kirsty Clarke
Last Updated: 26/11/18 4:14pm
The outpouring of support towards former Wales captain Gareth Thomas following a homophobic assault in Cardiff shows the power of LGBT allies, says Stonewall's director of sport, Kirsty Clarke.
Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, posted a video on Twitter explaining how he had been the victim of an attack earlier this month.
In response, there have been shows of unity from a number of sports teams and individuals including Wales, France and New Zealand's rugby teams, who all wore Stonewall's rainbow laces for recent Test matches.
"The attack was horrific and it just demonstrates that there needs to be a continued need for this conversation," Clarke told Sky Sports News.
"What the weekend has shown is how powerful the ally can be, those who don't identify as LGBT standing up for their team-mate and saying 'this is not OK and we are behind you'."
This week saw the start of the Rainbow Laces campaign, with clubs in the Sky Bet English Football League helping to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion by encouraging its clubs to support Stonewall's initiative.
This year, the EFL have invited clubs to activate the campaign at fixtures and club events during the eight-day period from November 24 until December 1.
Premier League clubs will begin their involvement on Friday, with Matchdays 14 and 15 providing opportunities to join in.
"It really emphasises the reach that we wouldn't be able to achieve on our own," said Clarke. "The bodies getting behind it, including Sky Sports, demonstrates the weight and the credibility that can be added to the campaign.
"We heard last year that a number of Premier League clubs wanted a home fixture [during the campaign]. By doing it over a longer time, it enabled a lot of grassroots sports to get involved, as well as women's sport and the rugby at the weekend.
"As we enter the latter stages of the campaign, we will engage with the EFL and the Premier League a lot more."
Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride and supports Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, which is currently receiving its annual activation across British sport until December 7.
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