Macklemore will perform his pro-marriage equality hit at a rugby final Sunday
Australia is currently voting on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage
A small number of conservative Australian politicians have picked a fight with Grammy award-winning artist Macklemore over his upcoming performance at a rugby league Grand Final.
Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) will hold its final game of the season in Sydney on Sunday, where the American rapper is set to perform in front of a national audience of millions.
But conservative politicians and media personalities have expressed outrage at his plans to sing his pro-marriage equality anthem, “Same Love.”
“Footy fans shouldn’t be subjected to a politicized grand final. Sport is sport!” argued former Australian Prime Minister, and vocal same-sex marriage opponent, Tony Abbott on Twitter.
Australia is currently voting in a two-month national postal survey on whether to allow same-sex marriage. The campaign has grown increasingly heated, as both sides look to consolidate a majority vote ahead of the November deadline.
The NRL has endorsed a “yes” vote through its CEO Todd Greenburg, a spokesman confirmed to CNN, but he said Macklemore was only chosen because he’s “currently one of the top performing artists in the world.”
“The response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive,” the NRL spokesman added.
Responding to the controversy Thursday, Macklemore said on an US radio show he was “going harder” in response to the anger around his performance.
“I’m getting a lot of tweets from angry old white dudes in Australia,” he said, laughing.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is in support of a “Yes” vote, told local morning Today program he “look(ed) forward” to the performance.
Australian PM: I’m looking forward to it
“That’s one of his top songs, one of his hits, people expect him to play it, he wants to play it, the NRL supports same-sex marriage, what’s the problem?” he told Channel Nine’s Today program.
When asked if Abbott was one of the “angry old white dudes” messaging Macklemore, Turnbull joked that while Abbott was a “white dude,” it depended on the moment whether he was “angry.”
Even Abbott’s own daughter Frances, a vocal same-sex marriage supporter, came out in support of the rapper, saying on her Instagram “this is what we need right now.”
But numerous conservative politicians and even a few former rugby players are adamantly against the performance, with former player Tony Wall starting a petition which had gained more than 14,000 signatures as of Friday.
Far-right One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson said she “didn’t even know who Macklemore (was),” adding Australia had so many “great artists” who should be performing.
“Put Johnny Farhnam up there, or Daryl Braithwaite … don’t bring some whoever up from overseas,” she told Channel Seven’s Sunrise.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told local radio 2GB the performance was disrespectful to employees and fans who were against same-sex marriage.
“Don’t use our dime and don’t use our time to try and convince us of a political argument that you’re putting,” he said. Local media reported Dutton later said there could perhaps be two songs, one against same-sex marriage.
Australia’s same-sex marriage debate
A national survey on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage in Australia was mailed out to voters on September 12, kicking off a two-month campaign on the issue.
Ballots must be returned by early November, with results due to be released on November 15.
There’s no legal requirement for Australia to hold a national vote, nor is it a common method of legislating issues, but Turnbull chose the survey as a way to resolve the issue, pledging to pass same-sex marriage is the people vote “yes.”
Both Turnbull and opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten support marriage equality, as do the leaders of every one of Australia’s eight states and territories.
Regular opinion polls show the vast majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.
Macklemore’s new single is currently the top song on iTunes in Australia as of Friday morning, while the song he’ll be performing at the weekend, the 2013 hit “Same Love,” had returned to the top 20.