Aussie TV icon Magda Szubanski has articulated her disdain for the Manly Sea Eagles pride jersey scandal.
Earlier this week, The Manly Sea Eagles attempted to launch a new initiative to wear rainbow-themed jerseys to promote inclusivity however, seven rugby league players have boycotted the idea on the basis of religious freedom.
Seven players, Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley have stood down from Thursday night’s match against the Sydney Roosters because wearing the rainbow jersey would contradict with their religious beliefs.
Beloved comedian and actor Magda Szubanski has attacked the boycott, saying the Sea Eagles players who refused to attend Thursday night’s game are failing to show the tolerance they demand for their own religion.
Szubanski took to Twitter to share her thoughts: “Thought experiment: imagine if Manly players were asked to wear stripes to let religious players & fans know they are welcome,”
“Then imagine an atheist player refuses to wear the stripes coz their “belief” (based on fact) is that millions have been killed in the name of religion.
“Religious tolerance doesn’t mean you condone or believe in the other’s religion. It means that you accept the right of difference to exist. That you support a world where people are not excluded or persecuted because of their religion. All we ask, is for the same courtesy.
“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 AO (@MagdaSzubanski) July 26, 2022
The TV star started posting bible quotes to highlight Christian beliefs around treating strangers with love and kindness.
“I hope that if it was explained to the players in terms of making people feel safe & welcome it might go better.
“You can’t force people to believe that homosexuality is not sinful.
“But you can ask them to help make a tolerant society that accepts difference. Including their own.”
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Szubanski is not alone in condemning the footy player’s boycott. Former NRL star Jordan Kahu shared his opinion on the jersey scandal via an Instagram story, saying: “You want to pick and choose when you want to stand. You want to pick and choose when you want to be inclusive.
“These humans don’t get to pick and choose who they are! You “stand” with these players? They don’t even know who the fuck you are and won’t even see it. But someone who does know you might see it, someone whose been struggling with telling everyone the truth.
“Why? Because they’re made to feel they’re not normal. And then what might they do? Quick google search and you can find there are 9 year olds taking their own life because of this shit. Fucking 9! What if this was your kid?”
On Tuesday, Manly Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler delivered a passionate and sincere apology over the incident, acknowledging that the team should have been consulted before the jerseys were announced but also trying not to diminish the intent behind the pride jerseys.
“The jersey’s intent was to support the advocacy and human rights pertaining to gender, race, culture, ability and LGBTQ movements,” Hasler said.
Watch Hasler’s full statement below.