The NRL has backed the “yes” campaign for same-sex marriage after out rugby legend Ian Roberts appealed to the organisation to take a stand.
Roberts, who came out in 1995, said he’s passionately fought for equality following the suicides of four close mates who struggled with the stigma around their sexuality.
But he said it was the death of 13-year-old Queensland student Tyrone Unsworth this year that convinced Roberts to take his campaign to the NRL.
He wrote to NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and asked him “not to miss a moment in history”.
Greenberg responded: “One of the key pillars of rugby league is inclusiveness – and the game has a duty to back up its policy with action,” Greenberg said.
“There is a place for everyone in rugby league. It might be as a junior, as a volunteer, as a match official or as an NRL player. And we need to treat everyone equally both on and off the field and that’s why we will publicly support the same-sex marriage proposal.”
Roberts told Fairfax Media he’d never been so proud of the NRL.
“I have had four friends commit suicide because they have struggled with who they are. This isn’t just about marriage. It’s about saving lives and telling young people that they are OK. There is nothing wrong with them,” he said.
“Rugby league has the power to do that because so many people watch it and love it and I’m proud that Todd and the league have taken this step.”
The AFL publicly announced their support for marriage equality back in 2014.
Roberts has said he plans to contact other sporting bodies in the coming weeks to seek their support.
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