Former prime minister Tony Abbott has backed a call from same-sex marriage opponents to ban American rapper Macklemore from performing his pro-gay song Same Love at the NRL grand final.
Former player Tony Wall, who played first grade briefly in the mid 1990s, is petitioning NRL boss Todd Greenberg to halt the half-time performance and "take a neutral position on the question of same-sex marriage".
The Coalition for Marriage, the official "no" campaign vehicle, seized on the Change.org petition on Wednesday, demanding the NRL ban the song despite making "freedom of speech" one of its central campaign tenets.
Spokesman David Goodwin said the grand final was "not a PC lecture theatre" and it was "bizarre that the NRL would choose to use its half-time entertainment to push a message which it knows millions of Australians disagree with".
Mr Abbott backed that call, tweeting: "Footy fans shouldn't be subjected to a politicised grand final. Sport is sport!"
But the NRL stood firm on Wednesday, with Mr Greenberg telling 2GB radio the LGBTI anthem was just one of four songs Macklemore was scheduled to perform, and reiterating the code's support for same-sex marriage.
"He's playing four of his biggest hits, one of those will include that song and we're very comfortable with that," Mr Greenberg said.
He conceded the song could be seen as a political act but said "we're an inclusive game" and "it would be a little hypocritical for us to have inclusiveness as one of our values and not actually deliver on it".
The song Same Love, which reached No.1 in Australia in 2013, is critical of homophobia in rap music and includes the lyric: "No freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it."
Mr Wall said he and his family, and other NRL fans who did not support same-sex marriage, would feel uncomfortable watching the grand final if the song were to be performed. The petition had gathered 2100 online signatures as of Wednesday evening.
The NRL formally announced its support for same-sex marriage just over two weeks ago, saying the league had a duty to back up its policy of inclusion with action.
The AFL has also encountered blowback for its long-standing support for marriage equality, with commentators and some Coalition MPs upset over a decision to temporarily replace the logo outside its Melbourne headquarters with a "yes" sign.
Both codes have resisted attempts to shut down their advocacy, arguing they are entitled to a point of view but respect those who disagree.
The Coalition for Marriage and supporters have made "freedom of speech" a central tenet of its campaign, claiming free speech wold be under threat if same-sex marriage were to be legalised.
"Freedom of speech is a central issue in this campaign," the Coalition for Marriage said last week following the Abbott headbutt.
"It is absolutely crucial that people are able to speak up and participate in a national conversation about marriage in a respectful and peaceful manner."
In a 2GB interview on Wednesday, Mr Abbott continued his campaign for a "no" vote, saying it was "the best way of stopping political correctness in his tracks".
"We have seen political correctness run riot on a whole host of issues, but this is the first time that the Australian public have been asked to cast their verdict on all of these developments," he said.
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