Several NBL players will not wear the rainbow logo during the NBL’s Pride Round citing religious beliefs.
The NBL launched its inaugural Pride Round on Monday with the inclusivity campaign to take place this weekend.
The courts will display the Champion Pride Progress flag logo and all players will be invited to wear jerseys featuring the same rainbow logo.
Some players from the Cairns Taipans have voiced concerns about wearing their rainbow Champion logo on their jerseys because it conflicts with their religious beliefs, according to News Corp.
The NBL will not force players to don the rainbow logo and the Taipans’ players are still expected to play in Wednesday’s match against the South East Melbourne Phoenix with a normal Champion logo.
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The decision to “invite” players to wear the logo rather than force it on them comes after the NRL’s Manly Sea Eagles had their season derailed when players were required to wear a rainbow pride jersey.
Seven Manly players – Josh Aloiai, Toafofoa Sipley, Tolutau Koula, Christian Tuipulotu, Haumole Olakau‘atu, Jason Saab and Josh Schuster – withdrew themselves from selection and said the rainbow jersey went against the cultural and religious beliefs.
Manly attracted criticism as it did not inform players about the rainbow jersey and forced them to wear it without prior consultation.
The NBL announced its inaugural Pride Round in September last year and confirmed players would be “invited” rather than forced to wear the rainbow logo on their jerseys.
Players, coaches, and staff will also be offered the chance to participate in LGBTQ awareness training.
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger further clarified the organisation was open to accepting all religious beliefs and would not be forcing any player to don the jersey.
“We acknowledge, at times, there will be challenges with various stances we take as an organisation and they may conflict with some people’s beliefs,” he said.
“Regardless, we will continue to work together to support each other, and we will always respect that people may have different views, opinions and values to ours.
“The NBL is of the view the LGBTQ community plays a crucial role in supporting inclusion and diversity in all aspects of society by encouraging and giving others the confidence to be themselves, no matter how or where they choose to work and play.”
The NBL’s Pride Round was immediately supported by the Australian Basketball Players’ Association which said it was a “step towards greater inclusion and acceptance at all levels of our great game”.
“As the Players’ Association, we represent, support and empower a diverse playing group which is reflective of the broader community. The Pride Round provides an opportunity to celebrate the value of diversity within the League and society,” ABPA CEO Jacob Holmes said.
“We believe in the recognition of the human rights and respect for individual’s choices and continue to work with all our members in our sport.”
Last year Melbourne United player Isaac Humphries became the first active NBL player to come out as gay in a powerful speech to his teammates.
“Since I made my announcement, not only has it made me feel free and happy, but it has also inspired me to help create serious change and set an example that you can be a professional athlete, or anything you want to be, and still be gay,” Humphries said.
“The support I have received has been overwhelming and I’ve been so thankful for that. The challenge now is to help others on their journey and make a real change.
“I welcome the NBL’s inaugural Champion Pride Round, as it is another step towards the League and basketball becoming a more comfortable and welcoming environment.”
The Cairns Taipans were contacted for comment but the club did not respond before publication.