• South Africa's Jozi Cats are challenging preconceived ideas about sexuality with their powerful new recruiting campaign (Facebook)
An inclusive South African rugby club is slaying both on and off the field.
By
Bianca Soldani

16 May 2016 - 10:14 AM  UPDATED 17 May 2016 - 10:07 AM

The Johannesburg-based Jozi Cats are Africa’s very first gay and inclusive competitive rugby team, encouraging acceptance on and off the field by offering an open space for LGBTQI players.

Now looking to expand their ranks, the club are dismantling stereotypes with a provocative new recruiting campaign that challenges preconceived notions of same sex-attracted people in sport.

Under the banner of "Rugby that's so gay!", a series of print ads sees the team’s burly players reclaim derogatory slurs in a powerful way.

Terms such as “pansy”, "queen" and “fairy” are juxtaposed with images of the brute masculinity of the sportsmen to prove they are exactly the same as players of a different sexual orientation.

In a video chronicling the ad’s creation, all-rounder Chris Herbst explains: “We are running a campaign to make awareness of people who are homosexual in our society to have courage to actually step out.”

“A stereotype isn’t who you are, your sexuality doesn’t determine your success in life,” adds centre Teveshan Kuni.

Not only is the club about inclusivity within the LGBTQI community, but it also takes players of all skill levels, including newcomers to the game.

Kuni says: “A lot of the guys who have joined our club are interested in rugby but have never been given the opportunity to play before because largely they felt held back by their sexuality.”

The response so far has been to the club's delight, with 1,500 people liking their Facebook page and their YouTube video garnering in excess of 12,000 views.

The Jozi Cats tell SBS that since the campaign launch, "every day we have had about two to three guys asking about more information about our club and how they can join in."

"It has also motivated existing players to take part in our practices and touch rugby matches," they add.

More than 60 per cent of African states outlaw homosexuality, but South Africa has led the charge both in the region and the world when it comes to LGBTQI rights.

Gay and lesbian South Africans have the right to marry, adopt children and serve openly in the military. All gender transitions are legally recognised and back in the mid-1990s it was the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution.