It’s a debate that will rage for a number of weeks, months and years, but all and sundry are now having their say on the Manly Sea Eagles seven, who have boycotted the club’s pride jersey.
Queensland MP Bob Katter, however, has made a wild statement at Parliament House, comparing the Sea Eagles seven to Jews in Nazi Germany.
Katter has now had his say, stating that he “couldn’t be more appalled” and argued the NRL pride jersey is an example of “religious persecution”.
“You believe in this book, you’re gonna be persecuted, they’re coming for you. So stand up,” he told Queensland News.
“I’m sorry, people like myself in our cowardice haven’t stood up before but now we must.”
Katter’s tirade didn’t end there, continuing: “Six million people were sent to the gas chambers in Germany because they believed in this book. No other reason.
“It started pretty unthreateningly, ‘Oh, we just want you to tell us whether you believe in the Bible and that you’re a Jew.’”
Katter went on to claim “this continued persecution is well and truly alive today.”
“Just have a look at what’s happened to these seven boys from Manly,” he said.
“They have been persecuted for no other reason than they have moral convictions. Whether you agree with their convictions, or not, is irrelevant.”
Katter then professed that the seven are ‘heroes’.
“Whether you agree with them or not, they have stood up for what they believe in at great personal sacrifice and that is truly admirable,” he said.
“This is what the people of self-righteous arrogance have done to them.”
Those seven players refused to wear the new shirt, but were willing to put on the traditional Manly strip. That, however, isn’t possible with the NRL’s rules not allowing players to wear an alternative strip on the same field.
That being said, the club is also standing firm with no intention to withdraw the jersey which includes rainbow colours across the front.
If the Sea Eagles continue their strong stance, they will become the first club in rugby league’s 114-year history to wear a jersey — titled Everyone in League — celebrating diversity and inclusivity in the NRL.
Meanwhile, head coach Des Hasler has thrown his support behind those players refusing to wear the strip.
Sea Eagles legend, Ian Roberts, was the first rugby league player to come out as gay back in 1995, and he backed Manly for releasing the shirt.
However, he is disappointed to say the least by the players’ attitude.
Roberts, in 1995, became the first rugby league player to come out as openly gay, and on Monday threw his support behind Manly’s move.
“I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart,” Roberts said.
“It’s sad and uncomfortable. As an older gay man, this isn’t unfamiliar. I did wonder whether there would be any religious push back. That’s why I think the NRL have never had a Pride round.”
“I can promise you every young kid on the northern beaches who is dealing with their sexuality would have heard about this.”
It’s a debate that’s likely to continue on as Manly and those seven players refuse to budge on their stance.