Manly Sea Eagles Player Who Boycotted Rainbow Pride Jersey Claims Gay Sister Supports Him

Manly Sea Eagles Player Who Boycotted Rainbow Pride Jersey Claims Gay Sister Supports Him
Image: Josh Aloiai. Images: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

Two months after seven Sea Eagles players refused to wear Rainbow Pride jerseys and sat out of their Pride round game against the Sydney Roosters, the Manly 7 have come out to explain and justify the boycott. 

Trigger Warning: This story discusses homophobic comments, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Josh Aloiai is the latest to clarify his stand, making it clear that he would continue to boycott Pride jerseys in the future and claimed that he had the support of his gay sister. 

In an interview with Nine News, Aloiai said that he had respect for gay people but did not endorse or want to live “that way”. It was not clear what his gay sister thought about his views on people in loving same-sex relationships. 

Sea Eagles’ Disastrous 2022 Season

Manly players with the Rainbow Pride jerseys. Image: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

Earlier this year, Aloiai and six other Manly players, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley, had boycotted the Pride jerseys citing their religious beliefs. 

The Sea Eagles’ 2022 season ended disastrously, with the team suffering seven consecutive losses, failing to make it to the finals and sacking their coach. 

Aloiai claimed that his family had received death threats after the news of the boycott became public. “You should never be put in a situation where your religious views or cultural views and beliefs conflict with your job,” he said.

Aloiai revealed that his older gay sister had spoken to him on the phone during the controversy. “Me and her are like this,” he said, holding up intertwined fingers, to emphasise that they were close. “And she knows that I love her to bits.

“Throughout all this happening, we did have a chat and she totally understood where I was coming from. She rang me up and was like: ‘How are you going? You all right? It’s so crazy the way the media has blown this out of proportion’.”

‘That Way of Life’

Aloiai also appeared to suggest that people in same-sex relationships were choosing to live “that way of life”.

“We still have nothing but respect for people that choose to live that way of life,” Aloiai said, before claiming that their conduct was not hateful towards LGBTQI people. 

“We personally don’t want to live that way or endorse it but, at the same time, we quietly took our stance and didn’t say anything hateful or hurtful. Instead we were the ones that were called everything under the sun.”

Responding to criticism that the Manly 7 had no problems wearing gambling and betting sponsored jerseys, Aloiai asked his critics to “show me in the Bible where it mentions gambling. It doesn’t, nor does it forbid alcohol within itself.”

‘We Won’t Compromise’

Manly players (left to right) Josh Schuster, Josh Aloiai and Tolutau Koula.

The Manly 7’s position on the Pride jerseys remains unchanged, despite club owner Scott Penn suggesting that the players would be open to wearing them next year. 

“The short answer is no, I won’t. We didn’t compromise this year and we won’t compromise next year or the year after. A difference of opinion is not a difference of respect,”  Aloiai.

Other players who were part of the Manly 7 have spoken out in the media recently. Haumole Olakau’atu said he doesn’t regret boycotting the Pride jerseys. Manly forward Josh Schuster said he would put his faith first, while Toluta’u Koula said he was targeted on social media.

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