A professional ice hockey player has declined to wear a pride jersey because of his beliefs.
San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer was absent during the pregame warmups on Saturday night (18 March) which he explained were due to the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community.
The jersey would have gone against Reimer’s religious beliefs, he explained in a statement. The 35-year-old is a Christian and said he ‘always strived to treat everyone with respect’ and declared that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.
Reimer stated: “Under the umbrella of the NHL’s Hockey is For Everyone initiative, the San Jose Sharks have chosen to wear jerseys in support of the LGBTQIA+ community tonight.
“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title, but how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness.”
He continued: “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life.
Reimer concluded: “I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”
The hockey team released its own statement and clarified that while they respect the LGBTQ community, they also respect an individual’s freedom of speech and expression.
“We also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the statement reads.
They added: “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”
Reimer isn’t the only hockey player this season to refuse to wear pride-themed jerseys. Russian defenceman for the Philadelphia Flyers Ivan Provorov refused to wear a rainbow jersey and said the decision was down to his Russian Orthodox religion.
“I respect everybody. I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov told reporters in January. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
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