The Australian Football League (AFL) has backed marriage equality in a move welcomed by advocates. AFL chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, revealed the league’s stance on the reform in response to a letter from Geelong woman Sharyn Faulkner, who has a gay son.
In a letter to Mr McLachlan, Ms Faulkner wrote: “If the AFL publicly declares that they are in support of marriage equality you will give that young player who is struggling with their sexuality the courage to realise just who they are.”
In response, Mr McLachlan wrote that football was no place for homophobia, and gave his personal commitment to “continue to speak out in this area whenever I can.”
“The AFL will keep saying no matter how many times it takes, that our game does not tolerate discrimination in any form, be that sexual identity, gender, race (or) religious views … we also support the position of marriage equality for all people.”
“This matter is a serious issue for many young gay people, in terms of how they are treated in the wider community, and football leaders such as myself will continue to say that we do not tolerate it, and will continue to push for a change in behaviour from all sections of society.”
Ms Faulkner welcomed the AFL’s support for marriage equality saying: “The AFL’s policy of having no tolerance to discrimination in any form was heartening and for them to actually say that ‘they support the position of Marriage Equality for all people’ will make it so much easier for people to say ‘If the AFL and my football club can say no to discrimination and yes to equality, then so can I!’.”
“I applaud Gillon McLachlan for giving his personal commitment to continue to speak out for marriage equality whenever he can and I hope that all the AFL Club Presidents and members give that same commitment.”
National director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, also welcomed the AFL’s support. “I applaud the AFL for extending its leadership on combatting homophobia to support for marriage equality,” says Mr Croome.
“AFL is central to Australian identity and the AFL’s support for marriage equality reaffirms that values like inclusion and fairness are central too. With almost three quarters of Australians supporting marriage equality, the AFL’s support for the reform will be welcome by many AFL players and fans, and in all likelihood draw new fans to the game.”
The AFL’s support for marriage equality comes in the wake of two senior teams, Greater Western Sydney and Geelong, confirming their support for the reform.
For more information, visit: www.australianmarriageequality.org for details.