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National Rugby League backs marriage equality in Australia

National Rugby League backs marriage equality in Australia

Burgess brothers

Australia’s NRL (National Rugby League) has become the latest organization to publicly pledge its support to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country.

The organization has signed a corporate-led campaign launched by the advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality.

Last month, a full-page advert ran in the Australian press  featuring the names of 154 brands who were calling on the Government to have a vote on same-sex marriage. Signatories included Google, Twitter and Qantas.

Since then, the campaign has snowballed, and now has the backing of 391 different businesses and brands.

The NFL’s support follows that of the Football Federation of Australia and the AFL.

In a statement announcing the support NRL Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Young said, ‘One of the NRL’s core values is inclusiveness and we have put in place practices and policies to support and recognize the rights of our LGBTI community. Accordingly, the NRL supports marriage equality.’

Echoing her views was British-born rugby star Thomas Burgess, who plays for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Burgess spoke out on why he supported LGBTI rights.

‘It’s ignorant and old-fashioned [to think] if you’re male you can only love a female.

‘Nowadays, anyone can love anyone. And people just need to get over it.’

Burgess said that when he and his brothers were children, their parents were good friends with a lesbian couple, to the extent that the boys referred to them as ‘aunties’.

‘We always thought it was normal … They were really helpful in our growing up and we loved them.

He also said that he had gay friends and, ‘wouldn’t want them to be unhappy in life.’

Commenting on the NRL’s support of marriage equality, Burgess said it was ‘great for the cause’ to have a ‘name as big as the NRL’ speak out in support.

This isn’t the first time Burgess has spoken out on LGBTI issues. Last year, he and his brother Sam – a fellow rugby star – made a short video for on the issue of homophobia in sport.

Australian Prime Minister has frequently voiced his opposition towards same-sex marriage, despite its recent legalization in Ireland and across the US.

Last week it was announced that a multi-party same-sex marriage bill was due to be introduced to Parliament in the next few weeks. Two previous bills have failed, but this new one will be the first bill to be introduced with public support from Coalition MPs.