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Irish team in LGBTQ shoelaces gesture

An Irish World Rugby Classic team is to wear rainbow bootlaces to show its support for equal rights for gay people.

A spokesman for the Irish Legends said: “Every athlete should compete knowing their chances soar when they bring their full self to the game.

“If these shoelaces inspire hope and change some hearts and minds, then even simple shoelaces are a victory for human rights and acceptance.”

The move was welcomed by gay rights group OutBermuda.

Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, a spokesman for OutBermuda, said the organisation was honoured to team up with the tournament “to involve everyone in support of LGBTQ equality”.

He added: “Growing up, there should be no barrier to sports based on your sexual orientation — every person belongs in the game, including every LGBTQ child and family.”

Mr Hartnett-Beasley, an ex-rugby player, said he was pleased that “diversity and inclusion are being further recognised and affirmed in Bermuda”.

He added: “Lacing up may seem a small thing to do, yet this has a lasting impact for every sports fan and every player. If just one person is positively affected by this initiative, then it has been successful.”

Ireland became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote in 2015. A Bermuda Government appeal against a court decision which opened the way for same-sex marriages in Bermuda is to be heard next week.

Ronan Kane, events director at the World Rugby Classic, which kicks off on Sunday, said rugby was a “uniquely welcoming sport”.

Mr Kane said the tournament was proud to support LGBTQ people and that all people are created equal.

He added: “The spirit of rugby encourages a more equal society for everyone in Bermuda and around the world.”

Sean Field-Lament, president of the Bermuda Rugby Football Union, said the game’s governing body backed the Irish gesture.

He said: “The BRFU is committed to supporting initiatives that reduce bullying, promote diversity and inclusivity ... We applaud the work being undertaken by OutBermuda and look forward to seeing the rainbow laces on the field and collaborating with them in the future.”

The laces will be on display when Ireland take on France at Bermuda National Sports Centre at 2.15pm on Sunday.

The World Rugby Classic, now in its 30th year, brings top names in international rugby and thousands of fans from around the world to Bermuda.

This year’s event runs until November 10.

For more information visit www.worldrugby.bm.