Muslim AFLW star Haneen Zreika sits out Pride Round over jersey

haneen zreika aflw greater western sydney giants pride round
Image: AFLW/YouTube

Greater Western Sydney AFLW player Haneen Zreika has again withdrawn from the AFLW Pride Round over her club’s rainbow jersey because of her Islamic faith.

During their October 16 match, the Greater Western Sydney Giants will wear rainbow-coloured gear, including a jersey, to celebrate inclusion, diversity and the AFLW’s LGBTIQ+ players and fans.

But Zreika has chosen to sit out the match for the second season in a row after she first declined to wear a pride jumper in January.

The 23-year-old Muslim player hasn’t publicly commented about the upcoming match, but she said in a statement in January, “As the first Australian Muslim woman in the AFLW, I have a responsibility to represent my faith and my community.

“I respect people regardless of their sexual orientation.

“This decision was extremely difficult, and I appreciate the support of the AFL, Giants and my teammates.

“Inclusion is about creating a space where people are able to respect their right to choose how they live their life as long as they don’t advocate hate and division.”

It comes after businessman Andrew Thorburn quit as CEO of AFL club Essendon this week after just 24 hours in the job after his Christian church’s anti-gay and anti-abortion views emerged.

The club later confirmed Thorburn was asked to choose between the club and his position as chair of the church.

Thorburn said in a statement after his resignation that he believed his “personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square” and the AFL was requiring him to “compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed.”

Haneen Zreika discusses withdrawal over Pride jersey

The Greater Western Sydney Giants are supporting Haneen Zreika’s decision to withdraw from the Pride Round match against Hawthorn.

Haneen Zreika earlier addressed withdrawing from January’s match in the AFLW Disney+ documentary series Fearless in August.

“I’ve always participated in Pride Round but never wore the socks or the warm-up shirt,” Zreika said.

“Coming into this, I never thought it would be an issue.

“I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, until the AFL rejected me from wearing a normal jersey. That was a shock to me.

“I love what the AFL do and the way they include everyone. But you can’t have a round where you include people but exclude someone that it impacts their faith.

“I really feel like an outsider, like, ‘No mate, you’re not part of us’. I always respect everyone, no matter what they are or where they come from.

“But obviously I take my religion seriously.”

Zreika explained in the documentary she “doesn’t judge” her queer teammates in the Giants.

“They can be whatever they want,” she said.

“I still love and respect them, and they’re still my mates.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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