Macklemore's Same Love takes centre stage at Sydney grand final

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Macklemore, dressed in a white under-vest and metallic gold jacket, stretches his arms out to either side in recognition of the crowd before the NRL grand final in SydneyImage copyright
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Macklemore: “No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it”

American artist Macklemore sang in support of gay rights at one of Australia’s biggest annual sporting events during the country’s vote on same-sex marriage.

The singer performed a set ahead of kick-off in the National Rugby League (NRL) grand final in Sydney.

Opponents had called for the song Same Love to be left out of the show to stop the event becoming “politicised”.

But Macklemore said it “was one of the greatest honours of my career”.

Australians are in the middle of a postal vote on whether gay marriage should be introduced. The poll is non-binding for the government, but has been deeply divisive.

Seattle native Macklemore – whose real name is Benjamin Haggerty – had previously told Australia’s Channel Nine he would donate his portion of the proceeds from the song’s sales in Australia to the Yes campaign.

The song had rocketed to the top of Australia’s charts on the iTunes digital music store.

Among its lyrics are: “I might not be the same, but that’s not important / No freedom ’til we’re equal / Damn right I support it.”

A petition asking the NRL to ban what it called an “LGBTIQ anthem”, started by former rugby league player Tony Wall, gathered thousands of signatures in the lead-up to the final on Sunday.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was among those calling for the song – one of Macklemore’s biggest hits – to be excluded.

But the song, accompanied by rainbow pyrotechnics, was the centrepiece of his set in front of 80,000 stadium spectators and was televised around the world.

While the music played, the stadium’s large screens displayed the NRL logo with the message: “We stand for equality.”

The postal ballot runs for two months, ending on 7 November. Opinion polls have suggested a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.

After Macklemore’s performance ended, Melbourne Storm handily defeated their rivals the North Queensland Cowboys 34-6 to win the grand final.

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