Marriage equality in Australia has been given a huge boost after the Australian Football League (AFL) expressed its backing for the “Yes” campaign.
The country is in the midst of a controversial postal survey on whether or not to change the law to allow same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, the AFL made its position on the matter clear by temporarily replacing its logo outside its Melbourne headquarters with a version that reads “Yes”. It also posted a video of a ball with the word emblazoned on it.
Australian rules football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia. Chief executive Gillon McLachlan said it was important for the organisation to have a strong stance on the issue.
“The AFL is committed to equality and diversity, and we support the rights of all Australians to live, work and play free from discrimination,” he commented in a statement.
Everyone must be treated equally, on and off the field
The unveiling of the logo was attended by high profile footballers Ben Brown, Max Gawn, Dyson Heppell, Darcy Vescio and Meg Hutchins.
“The AFL is such a huge organisation and people all around Australia love footy, so for them to put such a strong stance forward is awesome and I think it will mean a lot to a lot of people,” Vescio, a Carlton AFL Women’s footballer, told AFL.com.au.
“I think it fits really well with their brand and their overall stance on things, so the more people who feel included in this game, the better, and the more it will grow.”
The Yes campaign is also being supported by Australia’s rugby, basketball, soccer, cricket and netball codes.
National Rugby League Chief Executive Todd Greenberg wrote earlier this month: “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.”
Australia’s Bureau of Statistics has sent out forms asking around 16 million registered Australians: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The results of the poll are to be announced in November.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that if the public votes in favour of marriage equality in Australia, as expected, the government will present a bill in parliament in order to legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year.