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January 27, 2013 12:52 PM

AFL 2012 Rd 18 - Carlton v Richmond

Brock McLean is supporting gay and lesbian rights

They're in a powerful position to promote equality
CARLTON midfielder Brock McLean has vowed to become the first AFL player to participate in the Melbourne's annual gay and lesbian Pride March next Sunday.

McLean – who revealed to The Age that his sister Ellie "came out" four years ago – has called upon the AFL to do more to combat homophobic behavior at all levels of the game.

He said the league should – as has been suggested by various parties – stage a gay pride-themed round to draw more attention to the issue.

"The relief for her was huge," McLean said his sister's revelation, "and it just got me thinking how sad it is that so many people have to live in fear of not being accepted for who they are.''

Ellie McLean said she had been more concerned about the consequences for her brother than herself.

''Guys are always paying out on each other on the footy field and I didn't want him to be embarrassed or cop any abuse,'' she told The Age.

Her brother said the AFL needed to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on anti-gay conduct from grassroots level to the AFL.

"If there's anyone yelling homophobic taunts, those people should be banned from footy for life," McLean said.

"You hear, 'you weak poof, you faggot' from supporters who use it as a term for someone who might go in soft … which is just mind-blowing because it's totally irrelevant and totally far from the truth.

''AFL players who do it should be made an example of, fined and suspended. We need to say this isn't acceptable and set an example not just for the football community but for the rest of the community.''

McLean plans to join gay Yarra Glen footballer Jason Ball in the Pride March next Sunday.

''Jason Ball has been incredibly courageous and he deserves a lot of credit in getting the ball rolling, but the AFL need to take it much further,'' he said.

''It would be great to see a gay pride round with all the players wearing rainbow socks or boots, or using a rainbow ball. We need people who are proud to take a stand and say they're not going to accept this silence any more.''

No AFL players have outed themselves as gay. McLean says he doesn’t know any gay footballers but assumes there was still a "fear of being an outcast".

He said the AFL needed to create a more welcoming environment.

''The AFL's the biggest sport in Australia," he said. "They're in a powerful position to promote equality and treating everyone the same regardless of whether they're gay or straight. They're dipping their toe in with this issue but really they need to put their whole body in.''

McLean followed up on Twitter, posting: "It's about time we stopped living in the dark ages!!!"