Manly Sea Eagles Pride Drama Stokes Antireligious Hate Speech

Aractus 28, July, 2022

Hugh Jackman in Pride JerseyWow what a past couple of days it’s been on this issue. The NRL’s Manly Sea Eagles unveiled a pride jersey for the Women in League Round with rainbow stripes as you see Mr Jackson modelling opposite. What does LGBTQ+ rights have to do with promoting Women in League? I have no idea, it’s not Pride Round and there’s little in it promoting Women’s inclusion in particular, rather it was internally promoted as an “all inclusive” symbol. Remember that for a minute: all inclusive.

For those of you who don’t follow the footy – the game is simple. For 80 minutes 26 big burly blokes run up and down a field, the fans do a Vikings Clap and the Raiders win. Or if you want the more complicated version: there’s 13 blokes on each side allowed on the field at a time from a squad of 17 with something we call interchanges every now and then throughout the game.

Seven Manly players do not wish to wear the rainbow pride jersey, and will sit out today’s game. Yes that’s 41% of the players (!) meaning they will make up the shortfall with B-Grade players aka Des’ rookies.

The players cited religious, cultural, and family values/beliefs as their reason for objecting to promoting gay pride. This represents the other side of so-called “inclusion” – one where the players have felt inclusive recognition of their cultural-religious values has been sidelined, and you know what: they’re right. I used to have anti-gay beliefs that had been enshrined into me due to cultural-religious “values”, and I’ll tell you something about that: these are not individualistic beliefs. They are societal/communal beliefs. Many of the players were not born in Australia, with around 45% being of Polynesian/Pasifika decent. Those are devoutly religious countries we’re talking about, and the men in the NRL are mostly young and have not had the life experience yet to question the beliefs and societal values they were brought up with. That’s one reason why it’s manifestly wrong to sit in judgment over them for their beliefs about homosexuality, we are talking about social beliefs not individualistic ones, for some of these guys their families (e.g. parents, grandparents) would be extremely disappointed in them for not speaking out or defending their faiths. Pressure works both ways.

In a nutshell – the reason we don’t all kill one another is tolerance. The Manly players are being asked to decide if they believe in supporting a tolerant society – one that allows difference.

Note that there are PLENTY of players who feel safe to be open about their religion, but no current players who feel safe to be open about their sexuality. That tells us where the injustice lies.

— Magda Szubanski via

The above is an example of the hate-speech that has been doing the rounds. Yes, hate speech. Magda can be a wonderful LBG advocate when she wants to be, but when she starts trashing people’s religious/cultural/spiritual convictions she is no longer advocating tolerance but speaking hate. It’s not a question about whether they want to live in a free and open tolerant multicultural society; it’s a question about whether they wish to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights during the Women in League round. For some religious people it may be a question about promoting pride as a virtue, rather than having anything to do with LGBTQ+ rights (for many people of faith humility and modesty are important spiritual or religious values). It’s also question about whether they wish to be activists for any cause – some people may be fine with advocacy but not activism. Would Magda wish to be a religious activist for all of the Abrahamic religious community? Of course she wouldn’t, while she claims to be “culturally Catholic” she delights in belittling the religious practices of others.

For what it’s worth I think this situation was salvageable earlier in the week. Manly had an option before them that wasn’t perfect, but would have avoided the exclusion of 41% of their playing squad. They could have invited the seven players objecting to the rainbow jerseys to instead wear their regular jerseys.

Instead the coach Des Hasler along with his captain held a press conference where they apologised to the playing team and admitted that the club had made a terrible mistake. The thing is that Des didn’t make the mistake, nor have any part of it, the club made its decision about the Women in League’s jersey without his involvement at all. Of course they made a mistake, they made people of faith uncomfortable for holding conservative values that don’t align with modern Australian society, and that’s something they will now have to deal with.

If you want a radical suggestion, well I don’t think it’s that radical but some people might, why don’t we have a celebration for those who continue to be more maligned in society than the LGBTQ+ community? Like divorcees, survivors of domestic violence, sex workers, ex-addicts, and ex-convicts.

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