In an already charged political and religious climate, U.S. rapper Macklemore delivered a pointed political message. The rapper performed his smash hit “Same Love” about gay marriage equality at the National Rugby League Grand Final on Sunday in Australia.

Australia is currently going through a non-binding vote through the mail on allowing same-sex marriage. Even though the public overwhelmingly supports the measure, it may not pass due to Australia’s ruling party and parliamentary rules of procedure.

Conservative and Christian organizations criticized the choice of song by Macklemore. A petition was circulated to have the rapper banned from his performance, which received 18,000 signatures. Ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbot called for a banning of the song because of it “politicized sports.” Radio station refused to play Same Love during the Grand Final, instead of playing a parody version by radio DJ Ray Hadley. During a commercial break for the performance, a TV advertisement for the NO campaign (against same-sex marriage) was played.

Even with the criticism, the song jumped to the top of the Australian Itunes Chart. Macklemore has promised to donate any money made from Australian sales to support the movement for marriage equalization.

While groups did criticize the Rugby League for having an obvious political song involved, the league responded by saying that the song was up to the artist and the league supported them. The league also asked attendees to the event not to bring in any rainbow flags or signs that had “yes” or “no” slogans. The event has had political songs before. Last year Cold Chisel played an anti-Vietnam War song Khe Sahn and the Village People played the song YMCA, which celebrates gay men.

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