A group of Australian rugby players plan to boycott their team's upcoming match after it was announced that gay pride jerseys will be worn.
Seven Manly Sea Eagles players will boycott Thursday night's match against Sydney after being blindsided by their club's decision to wear a pride jersey, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Manly's coach, Des Hasler, told the players he understood the difficult position they had been put in as a result of the club not consulting them about the jersey, the Herald reported.
The coach said he will support their decision not to play.
The players did not want to wear the jersey on cultural and religious grounds, the Herald reported.
Sea Eagles team officials said they understood the backlash it would face from the public if they decided against wearing the gay pride jersey after publicly launching it on Monday, the Herald reported.
Manly legend Ian Roberts, who came out as gay during his playing days in the 1990s, had been an advocate of the club wearing the one-off jersey.
"It hasn't totally shocked me like it's shocking everyone else," Roberts said. "As an older gay man, I'm used to this. I expected there would be some sort of religious pushback."
The controversy Down Under is reminiscent of several Tampa Bay Rays players refusing to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms early last month as part of the team's annual "Pride Night" that recognized the LGBTQ community.
Rays pitchers Jason Adam said he and several teammates made a "faith-based decision" to not wear rainbow-colored logos.
"A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision," said Adam, The Washington Post reported. "So it's a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here.
"It's not judgmental. It's not looking down. It's just what we believe the lifestyle [Jesus has] encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here."
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