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Sports stars against homophobia part of Sydney gay Mardi Gras parade

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Gay athletes and straight allies part of three floats leading the parade.

Aussie Rules Football star Mike Pyke is among the straight athletes who will march in the parade.
Aussie Rules Football star Mike Pyke is among the straight athletes who will march in the parade.
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

A mixture of openly gay athletes and straight ally athletes from various sports will march in the huge Sydney gay Mardi Gras parade on Saturday. The first three floats leading the parade will be part of a campaign to fight homophobia in sports.

The first three floats will focus on the fight against homophobia in sport and celebrate the achievements of elite gay athletes, the commitment by the major Australian sports to promote a more diverse and inclusive sporting environment, and the success of the Sydney Convicts, who won the 2014 Bingham Cup, recognized as the World Cup of gay rugby.

The float carrying the elite athletes will showcase the logos of five major sports, cricket and the four main football codes, which signed the joint, historic commitment organized by Bingham Cup Sydney last April, to eliminate homophobia.

Among the gay athletes will be Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham,Daniel Kowalski (Swimming), Shelley Gorman (basketball), Jai Wallace (trampoline) and Alex Blackwell (cricket). Among the straight athletes are several from Aussie Rules Football and soccer.

"Mardi Gras is a huge part of Sydney's culture and we are excited to be part of it," Aussie Rules Football player Mike Pyke said. "Equality right throughout the community and in sport is something we should all strive for."

Homophobia is a major problem in Australia sports. A study last year found 80% of LGBT athletes s had experienced or witnessed homophobic abuse. Most of the abuse was verbal, but 13% report physical abuse. Having major athletes march in the parade, which is watched nationwide, is a big statement and positive development.