CANBERRA, Australia — U.S. rapper Macklemore is wading into Australia’s gay-marriage debate by vowing to sing his marriage equality anthem “Same Love” during a weekend rugby final.
Benjamin Haggerty, whose stage name is Macklemore, will be headlining the pre-game entertainment in Sydney on Sunday at the National Rugby League Grand Final, the Australian version of the Super Bowl.
But with the nation in the midst of a two-month postal ballot to gauge public opinion toward legalizing gay marriage, some opponents of change want “Same Love” censored.
Macklemore told Los Angeles Radio KPWR before flying to Sydney on Thursday that he was aware of the controversy but would not change his song list.
“It’s interesting actually because I’m playing ‘Same Love’ and they’re going through right now trying to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia, so I’m getting a lot of tweets from angry, old white dudes in Australia,” Macklemore said.
“I think there was a petition today to ban me from playing,” he added. “I’m gonna go harder.”
Some senior government figures who oppose gay marriage and other high-profile rugby fans accused the league of politicizing the game.
League chief executive Todd Greenberg said his organization had to take a position on same-sex marriage as part of its diversity policy.
“I think it is one of the bravest and best decisions we have made for pre-match entertainment, but people will be the judge of that on Sunday,” Greenberg told reporters.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a gay marriage opponent who determined two years that his government should ask the Australian public to decide the issue, tweeted on Wednesday that rugby fans “shouldn’t be subjected to a politicized grand final. Sport is sport.”
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion. The opinion that I expressed yesterday was that the NRL had made a poor call in doing what they did,” Abbott told reporters on Thursday
Attorney-General George Brandis, who supports gay marriage, supported Macklemore’s performance of “Same Love” in a stadium filled with 85,000 people and to be broadcast nationally.
“It is one of his most popular songs, and for Mr. Abbott or anyone else to say that it should be banned, I think is a bizarre thing to say,” Brandis told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “I thought Mr. Abbott believed in freedom of speech.”
More than 16 million Australians have been asked in a postal ballot whether they think the law should be changed to allow same-sex marriage.
The result will be announced Nov. 15. If a majority of mail-in responses support marriage equality, Parliament will consider a bill to legalize gay marriage within a month. Some lawmakers have said they will vote down a same-sex marriage bill regardless of public opinion.