Magda Szubanski has accused the Manly stars who will boycott their NRL game over a rainbow-striped pride jersey of failing to show the tolerance their religion teaches.
The comedian and television personality is the latest to weigh in on the ongoing saga, which continues to dominate headlines and threatens to overshadow this weekend’s Women in League round.
Seven Manly Sea Eagles players will miss Thursday night’s crucial clash against the Sydney Roosters because they were unwilling to wear the club’s jersey featuring rainbow stripes due to their beliefs.
It’s since been revealed Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley have been told to stay away from the match at 4 Pines Park in Sydney’s northern beaches due to safety concerns.
Szubanski took to Twitter on Wednesday night to call for the players to show the tolerance their Christian faith was supposed to teach.
Magda Szubanski has weighed in on the ongoing controversy over the Manly pride jersey
‘Thought experiment: imagine if Manly players were asked to wear stripes to let religious players and fans know they are welcome,’ the outspoken star began.
‘Then imagine an atheist player refuses to wear the stripes coz (sic) their “belief” (based on fact) is that millions have been killed in the name of religion.
‘Religious tolerance doesn’t mean you condone or believe in the other’s religion. It means that you accept the right of difference to exist. That you support a world where people are not excluded or persecuted because of their religion. All we ask, is for the same courtesy.’
She pointed out that while many current NRL players have opened up about their staunch religious beliefs, not one has come out as openly gay.
It’s been almost 20 years since Manly legend Ian Roberts made history as the first rugby league player in the world to come out as gay.
‘In a nutshell – the reason we don’t all kill one another is tolerance,’ Szubanski wrote.
Sean Keppie, Kieran Foran and Reuben Garrick are among the 17 Manly players who will proudly wear the controversial jersey on Thursday night
‘The Manly players are being asked to decide if they believe in supporting a tolerant society – one that allows difference.
‘Note that they’re PLENTY of players who feel safe to be open about their religion But no current players who feel safe to be open about their sexuality. That tells us where the injustice lies.’
Szubanski then doubled down on her explanation by quoting a series of verses from the Bible.
‘Here are some Bible quotes that might help the Manly players get their heads around it,’ she said.
Magda Szubanski quoted a series of verses from the Bible in her scathing attack of boycotting Manly players
She later added: ‘I hope that if it was explained to the players in terms of making people feel safe & welcome it might go better.
‘You can’t force people to believe that homosexuality is not sinful.
‘But you can ask them to help make a tolerant society that accepts difference. Including their own.’
The Kath and Kim star (pictured) pointed out that while many current NRL players have opened up about the staunch religious beliefs, not one has come out as openly gay
Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Origin legend Sam Thaiday says he would have no problems with the jersey if he was still playing.
‘100 per cent, I would wear it loud and proud,’ Thaiday told the Today show on Thursday.
‘This is a debate that’s been going on all week. I literally have a sore in between my legs because I sit on the fence with this one in the sense that I have to be inclusive and respect the players who have decided not to wear the jersey.
‘But well done to the 17 players who will run out tonight for Manly and wearing that jersey.
‘They’re starting a conversation in rugby league. It’s hopefully a step forward into the future and seeing what’s going to happen going forward.’
The issue could not have popped up at a worse time for Manly with the Sea Eagles and Roosters placed either side of the top-eight dividing line.
A tweet from Magda Szubanski (pictured) on they boycotting Manly players
Manly wingers Jason Saab (left) and Christian Tuipulotu (right) are among the players who oppose wearing the jersey on religious grounds
Manly were already missing players ahead of the clash with the eighth-placed Roosters, who sit slightly higher on the ladder on for-and-against.
Manly are the only club to wear a pride jersey this weekend, becoming the first team in the 114-year history of the competition to wear such a design.
The historic jersey celebrates inclusivity, with the traditional white piping replaced by rainbow lines.
The jersey sold out in the men’s, women’s and kids section on Manly’s website just hours after the player boycott.
It’s understood Manly players were only told on Monday, despite it being in the works at the club for more than 12 months.