South Sydney Rabbitohs star Thomas Burgess has applauded the National Rugby League’s decision to formally support marriage equality.
The NRL is one of almost 400 organisations who have signed a letter in support of same-sex marriage, following other sporting codes the Football Federation of Australia and the AFL.
“One of the NRL’s core values is inclusiveness and we have put in place practices and policies to support and recognise the rights of our LGBTI community,” NRL chief operating officer Suzanne Young said.
“Accordingly, the NRL supports marriage equality.”
Burgess, 23, said it was “great for the cause” to have a “name as big as the NRL” come out to support same-sex marriage.
Growing up, Burgess and his brothers had two “aunties”, in reality a lesbian couple who were friends with their parents.
“We always thought it was normal,” Burgess told The Sydney Morning Herald. “They were really helpful in our growing up and we loved them.”
“It’s ignorant and old-fashioned (to think) if you’re male you can only love a female. Nowadays, anyone can love anyone. And people just need to get over it.”
Burgess is also mindful of gay friends when supporting same-sex marriage.
“I wouldn’t want them to be unhappy in life,” he said.
The NRL is far from squeaky clean when it comes to LGBTI issues such as homophobia.
Earlier this year, Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke was fined for making gay slurs on social media and last year Wests Tigers player Mitchell Moses was suspended for making a homophobic remark during an under-20s State of Origin match.
Burgess believes that when people make derogatory comments it is often because “they don’t actually think about what they’re saying”.
“It’s more just a bit of stupidity, really,” he said. “But people need to understand that it’s not right. They need to be more educated about it.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome also applauded the NRL.
“The NRL’s stance reflects growing momentum for marriage equality across all sections of Australian society,” he said.
Other organisations to have signed the letter include Airbnb, David Jones, Fitness First, Google, McDonalds and the four big banks.