SYDNEY – The heated debate about the legalization of same-sex marriage has reached the Australian rugby championship, where rapper Macklemore is set to perform a song in support of same-sex marriage.
The American musician will perform “Same love” – a song recorded along with musician Ryan Lewis in 2012 during the campaign for legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state – during the final of the National Rugby League which will take place Sunday in Sydney.
“The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision. And you can be cured with some treatment and religion. Man-made rewiring of a predisposition. Playing God,” a part of the song goes.
The controversy takes place amid a non-binding postal survey initiated by the government to gather public opinion regarding the possibility of allowing same-sex marriage, whose result will be known on Nov. 15.
The choice of performer and the topic has generated controversy after former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott publicly supported former rugby player Tony Wall’s petition to ban Macklemore from performing in the show.
“Footy fans shouldn’t be subjected to a politicized grand final. Sport is sport,” tweeted Abbott, whose sister Virginia Edwards is a lesbian and daughter Frances Abbott is part of the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.
More than 13,000 people had signed the petition by noon Friday.
In contrast, the Australian Prime Minister, the liberal Malcolm Turnbull, said on Friday that the song was a success and people were looking forward to listening to it during the final.
“The NRL supports same-sex marriage, what’s the problem?” said Turnbull, adding that all great sports are means to unite Australians without considering their race, background, religion, sexual orientation or gender.
In 1991, the New York-based openly homosexual group Village People sang the famous “YMCA” during the NRL final held in Sydney.
Macklemore, who delayed his visit to Australia for unstated reasons, told the Los Angeles-based radio program The Cruz Show that he has been “getting a lot of tweets from angry old white dudes in Australia.”
Other conservative politicians have also joined the chorus of criticism of Macklemore’s song, including xenophobic politician Pauline Hanson and legislator Bob Katter.
Katter – the representative from northern Australia’s Division of Kennedy, whose economy is largely based on agriculture and breeding livestock – accused the NRL of promoting its own sexual inclinations during one of the most important days for Australians.
On the other hand, politicians like Attorney-General George Brandis, who had worked closely with Abbott, distanced themselves from the stance taken by Abbott or anyone else regarding the song.
Former NRL players like Ian Roberts, who publicly declared his homosexuality, have supported the NRL’s campaign in support of respect for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer) people, both on and off the pitch.
NRL Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg said that the decision to ask the hip hop artist to perform had been the bravest decision the organization had taken.
Some 16 million Australians have been urged to send their opinion for or against same-sex marriage before Nov. 8.
A survey by opinion polling company Newspoll, reported by the newspaper The Australian, indicated that 57 percent of the Australian population is in favor of the measure, while 34 are against, with 9 percent of people who were undecided or refused to state their opinion.
If the majority of citizens vote yes, the government will propose a reform of the Marriage Act 1961 before Christmas, a law which was amended in 2004 to specify that marriages are restricted to a man and a woman.
However, if the majority say no, the reform will be set aside although the opposition Labor party has promised to organize a parliamentary debate on the issue if they win the 2019 elections.