The AFL became one of Australia’s last major sporting codes to visibly throw its support behind a yes vote in the same-sex marriage survey yesterday.
The AFL is committed to equality & diversity, & we support the rights of all Australians to live, work & play free from discrimination. pic.twitter.com/XUoAuEcwzJ
— AFL (@AFL) September 20, 2017
While the league backed marriage equality as far back as 2014, and holds an annual “Pride round” with rainbow-coloured goal flags, the NRL, ARU, Cricket Australia, Football Federation of Australia, NBL, and Netball Australia were all quick out of the blocks in public support for a yes vote as the campaign got underway.
One of the few major organisations to avoid taking sides was the Australian Olympic Committee, with CEO Matt Carroll telling Fairfax Media last week that “there are two sides to this discussion and I’m respecting both sides”.
“People’s religious views are important and they should be respected,” he said.
And shortly after the AFL revealed its support, including changing the code’s logo into a “Yes”, the Carlton Football Club issued its own statement which said that “it prides itself on being inclusive, and a leader in engendering equality and a deep sense of belonging”.
The survey is about equality and personal choice Carlton said, and it doesn’t intend to campaign on the issue.
“The Club encourages all of its people to have their say in this important national vote,” the statement said.
“We do strongly reinforce our Club’s absolute commitment to equality – and a community that is free from any form of discrimination.”
The statement provoked more reaction than the AFL’s stance, with many accusing Carlton of sitting on the fence.
The club really wants to fence sit on an issue where one side is equality and the other side is bigotry? Really?
— lex ?️? (@alexiam77) September 20, 2017
Disappointing statement. As spineless as our teams of the early 2000s
— Eliot Cohen (@The_Elcat) September 20, 2017
Members said they were now reconsidering their 2018 support for the club.
Some thought those reactions were over the top.
Pathetic? Bit over the top for a balanced statement that didn't to be said. It's stupid they issued a statement though
— J.I. (@BluesLaGoons) September 20, 2017
Others thought it was fair and said sport and politics should not mix.
Must disagree. Sporting clubs are there to entertain us on weekends – not to reinforce our views/beliefs/opinions on political/social issues
— Aye Bee (@WiseOne68) September 20, 2017
And several argued that the reactions of “yes” voters were driving support away from that side.
And no voters were happy with the statement.
One fan summed up how fraught the issue is for all.
The debate over support for same-sex marriage will continue until the vote closes on November 7, then no doubt continue until parliament votes on the issue – assuming the result on November 15 is a yes – before rising for the Christmas break.
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