Australian Rugby Players to Boycott Over LGBT-Themed Jerseys

The jerseys were made to show “inclusivity and diversity.”

QUICK FACTS:
  • Seven Australian rugby league players have announced they will sit out their upcoming game after receiving the news they would have to wear a rainbow-themed LGBT shirt.
  • “The players will not play on Thursday and we accept their decision,” said Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler. “These young men are strong in their beliefs and convictions and we will give them the space and support they require.”
  • Players from the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles said they’ll sit out the vital game as their team plans to be the first in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) to wear shirts to promote the LGBT agenda.
  • The seven players were Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, and Toafofoa Sipley.
  • Pushback against the players has increased and the players said they won’t be attending an upcoming game because the club said they’re worried about the players’ safety.
CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE JERSEYS:
  • The Daily Mail reported that four of the seven players refusing the wear the gay pride jersey held staunch religious beliefs, and cited that several other unspecified players have joined the protest on “cultural or religious grounds.
  • “Our intent was to be caring towards all diverse groups who face inclusion issues daily,” Hasler said. “Sadly this poor management has caused significant confusion, discomfort and pain for many people, in particular those groups whose human rights we in fact attempting to support.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Other sports teams have suffered similar experiences with their club’s push for LGBT-inclusive gear, including the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Five Rays pitchers refused to wear jerseys with rainbow insignias on their jerseys, including one who cited religious concern in his explanation for the slight.