Gary Lawson of New Zealand has been handed a 16-week suspension for homophobic abuse of another bowler in a competition last year ©Getty Images

New Zealand's bowler Gary Lawson has been ruled out of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham after receiving a 16-week suspension for homophobic abuse.

The abuse towards another bowler occurred in May 2021 at a competition held in Christchurch, and Lawson's appeal has been dismissed by a Bowls New Zealand judicial panel, led by the lawyer Mike Heron.

The panel, which also included former lawyer Keith Berman and former sports law lecturer Feona Sayles, ruled in a majority decision against Lawson.

New Zealand publication Stuff reported that Lawson's suspension dates from May 26, and thus will be in force during the Commonwealth Games.

He has the option to undertake a diversity and inclusion training programme to reduce the sanction to 10 weeks, but this would still be ban him from Birmingham 2022, which is scheduled to take place between July 28 until August 8.

Lawson has maintained his innocence and asked the judicial panel to overturn their decision, as reported by Stuff.

Lawn bowls and Para lawn bowls competitions at Birmingham 2022 are due to be held at Victoria Park in Leamington Spa ©Birmingham 2022
Lawn bowls and Para lawn bowls competitions at Birmingham 2022 are due to be held at Victoria Park in Leamington Spa ©Birmingham 2022

Two other complaints relating to threatening behaviour were dismissed last month.

Last year, an investigation from Stuff also alleged sexist remarks, verbal abuse and threatening behaviour from across a 25-year period on the part of Lawson, and that Bowls New Zealand, Bowls Canterbury and bowling clubs continued to allow him to play despite knowledge of the accusations.

In December last year, Lawson was suspended for four weeks for the use of profane and indecent language towards an opponent in October

He was also suspended for six months after being found guilty of match fixing in 2010, and did not return to international competition until 2019.

Lawson is a 14-time national champion in bowls, and has represented New Zealand at the 1994 and 2006 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and Melbourne, respectively.

At the 2008 World Outdoor Championships in Christchurch, he won gold medals in the men's pairs and fours events.

Lawn bowls at Birmingham 2022 is scheduled to be held from July 29 to August 6 in Leamington Spa's Victoria Park.