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Oz player Wotherspoon strips for LGBT community

Australian hockey player Dylan Wotherspoon

Bhubaneswar, December 5: He had no qualms shedding clothes to promote "inclusiveness" for the LGBT community, and Australian hockey player Dylan Wotherspoon is hoping that his message finds resonance not just in his country and but the entire world.

Australia is standing on the threshold of waitnessing a big social reform in the form of same sex marriage legislation, which is expected to be passed by the Parliament later this month. For Wotherspoon, sport is something that can bring everyone together and so he and his teammates in LGBT hockey club, The Perth Pythons have shot a nude calendar to pass across the message that the game of "hockey" is inclusive.

Braving a cold morning at Perth's nudist spot, Swanbourne Beach, Perth Pythons and national players Wotherspoon and his teammate Tom Craig, woman hockey Olympian Gabi Nance shed their clothes for a nude calendar to spread the message of "inclusiveness" in sports, especially hockey.

"We, at The Perth Pythons, are continuously working towards the cause and the calendar is our contribution to making hockey a more inclusive sport," Wotherspoon told PTI on the sidelines of the ongoing Hockey World League (HWL) Final here.

"The main idea behind the calendar is to prevent homophobia in sports. It's about just passing on the message that there is no problem if you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Everyone is equal. It doesn't matter what you are. We want to make everyone feel part of the world. The world is exactly the same for everyone," he explained.

In many countries, including India, the LGBT community is yet to get social acceptance and have to constantly live under discrimination and the stigma associated with same sex union. But Wotherspoon feels moves like the calendar will go a long way in helping the cause.

"It's for a good cause so I had no hesitation even for once. My family supported me. For me it's about showing that everyone belong to this world irrespective of his or her caste, creed and sexual inclination," said the striker from Brisbane, who scored a goal in Australia's 2-2 draw in a pool match against England at the HWL Final on Monday (December 4).

"We're equal and we all are doing our own thing. Everyone has got the right to do whatever they want," he added. According to an international study of homophobia in sport called 'Out On The Fields', 80 per cent of participants had experienced or witnessed homophobia while playing or watching sport.

The calendar, which was launched last month in Perth, is just a step towards creating awareness on the subject and the fund raised from the proceeds of the calendar will be used make sport more inclusive for the LGBT community.

"It's crucial time in Australia with the elections around and the same sex marriage bill on the verge of getting passed. So, by this calendar we just wanted to pass the message that everyone is equal."

The same sex marriage legislation is a bill that the majority of Australians support as nearly 80 per cent of eligible voters responded positively to a national postal survey earlier this month, with more than 61 per cent in favour of a changed law to allow same-sex wedding.

"The Australians have already given their verdict. They don't have problems with same sex marriage. It will be historic moment for the country when the bill is passed," Wotherspoon concluded.

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    Story first published: Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 15:38 [IST]
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