LGBTQIA advocates respond to pride jersey controversy

manly sea eagles rainbow jerseys
Image: courtesy of Manly Sea Eagles

Pride in Sport has responded to the controversy surrounding the Manly Sea Eagles’ history-making pride jerseys.

On Tuesday, Pride in Sport released a statement in response to the player revolt against the club’s LGBTIQ+ pride jerseys.

The national not-for-profit supports Australian sporting organisations and clubs with LGBTQIA+ inclusion.

“We know that for LGBTQ+ people, visibility is so important,” Pride in Sport Index co-founder Andrew Purchas OAM said.

“Visible role models, statements by key organisations and policies help to reduce barriers to participation and make people feel safe and included in sport.”

Mr Purchas said that in all sports, participants censor themselves over the fear of being outed, resulting in a detrimental impact on both mental and physical health.

“This is why initiatives like Pride rounds and Pride jerseys matter. They are a statement from an organisation, signalling that a sport wants people to feel safe to be who they are,” he said.

“These initiatives certainly don’t fix everything, but they are important symbols.”

It follows an apology from the club for the “significant mistakes” made in the jersey rollout.

“The jersey’s intent was to support the advocacy and human rights pertaining to gender, race culture, ability and LGBTQ movements,” Manly coach Des Hasler said.

“Sadly, the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor.”

Despite seven players boycotting the match, the Sea Eagles will still wear the jersey on Thursday and become the first NRL club in history to run out in LGBTQIA kit.

Pride jerseys sell out within hours of boycott

Manly Sea Eagles fans put their money where their mouth is in response to the player boycott.

After the player revolt emerged late on Monday, just hours later the jerseys had sold out online. On the club’s online store, the jersey had sold out in all men’s and women’s sizes.

Pride in Sport thanked the fans who supported the Pride jersey, and said it remained an important symbol for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We thank the many athletes and administrators involved in any sport where there are Pride jerseys and Pride rounds for their support,” Mr Purchas said.

“We also want to thank the fans for attending these games, buying the jerseys, and showing their support.

“It matters to people who you may never meet – especially young LGBTQ+ people – but who look at these important acts of solidarity to feel reassured that they are included in a society that welcomes and values them.”

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1 Comment

  1. Peter Turner
    28 July 2022

    These players know that the NRL is an inclusive sport. They choose to join the code and play in the league.

    For this they are paid extremely well.

    The expectation of all players is that they should be role models for ALL children, even LGBTQI children.

    They have proven themselves to be anything but!

    They should now consider whether they can continue in their roles in the same way Israel Folau had to.

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