Magda Szubanski had a message for the seven Manly players who decided to boycott the team’s gay Pride jersey citing their cultural and religious beliefs – look to the lesson of tolerance that their religion teaches them. 

Szubanski helpfully shared Bible verses “that might help the Manly players get their heads around it”.

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Seven Manly p layers Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley had said they would sit out Thursday’s game against the Sydney Roosters over the Sea Eagles’ decision to wear the gay Pride jersey to promote diversity and inclusivity.

The Right To Exist

In a series of tweets, Kath & Kim star Szubanski asked if the players believed in a tolerant society. 

 “Thought experiment: imagine if Manly players were asked to wear stripes to let religious players & fans know they are welcome,” said the actor, adding, “Then imagine an atheist player refuses to wear the stripes because 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”.

Szubanski pointed out that while players were open about their religious beliefs, there were not many players who were open about their sexuality. Former Manly player Ian Roberts came out in 1995. Since then no NRL player in Australia has come out. 

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“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,” posted Szubanski. 

Accepting Differences

“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.”

Responding to a social media user’s comments on her post that wearing the Pride jersey was a choice, Szubanski said: “Of course it should be a choice. But I think it should be framed as choosing to create a tolerant society.”

The actor said that the club management could have handled things differently so that the Pride jersey did not become a point of conflict. “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,” added Szubanski.

Manly Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler had apologised to players and the community over the the rollout of the Pride jersey. “The jersey’s intent was to support the advocacy and human rights pertaining to gender, race, culture, ability and LGBTQ rights. Sadly, the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor,” Hasler said.





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