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Sport is not the place for social engineering

By Lyle Shelton - posted Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The dragging of local sports clubs into the contested debate about gender theory may prove to be the final over-reach of LGBTIQ political activists.

Most of us who are involved in our local non-elite sporting clubs – usually through our kids on a Saturday morning – are not remotely thinking about the politics of whether-or-not “Johnny” should be allowed to strap on a skirt and join the netball team as “Mary”.

But thanks to guidelines released earlier this month by the ACT Human Rights Commission, local footy and netball club volunteer office holders are under pressure to wade through 34 pages of complex law and gender ideology to make sure they avoid getting fined under the Discrimination Act.


With the Orwellian title “Everyone Can Play”, this gender-bending gobbly-gook is redefining the way we are supposed to look at human biology by striking at the heart of Australian’s simple love of sport.

Anyone who remotely understands the culture of local non-elite sports will know that the idea of “everyone can play” is already deeply entrenched in our sense of the fair go.

The HRC’s suggestion that our local sporting clubs are excluding anyone is quite frankly an insult to the volunteers who week in, week out, go about making sure everyone is included.

In my decades of involvement in junior and senior sports I’ve seen club communities work together to make sure reasonable accommodations are made based on gender, age and disability so that “everyone can play”.

This is what comes naturally to ‘fair go’-minded Australians who don’t need Big Brother looking over their shoulder.

But the HRC’s guidelines are using sport and the law to coerce radical cultural change under the pretence of a conversation.


In fact, the not-so-subtle implication is that if you are not on board with the idea that gender is a social construct, you are a bigot and there is a ‘process’ followed by the threat of court and fines to bring you into line.

But there is no dispute in Australian culture that everyone should be treated courteously and with respect.

Often the best examples of our ability to self-regulate the necessary behaviours of civil society are witnessed at Saturday morning sport.

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About the Author

Lyle Shelton is Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby based in Canberra.

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