National Hockey League clamps down on LGBTQ+ inclusion with new ban on Pride colours

NHL Pride Tape

The National Hockey League (NHL) has reportedly prohibited players from showing LGBTQ+ support by issuing a league-wide ban on Pride Tape.

A number of players displayed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community by using rainbow-coloured Pride Tape on their hockey sticks during games and warm-ups.

However, a new policy change issued by the NHL ensures that this small token of support will be completely eradicated this season.

The new ban, confirmed by an NHL spokesperson to LGBTQ+ sports blog OutSports, will bar players from using Pride Tape during games, warm-ups, or even practices.

NHL Pride Tape
The NHL has reportedly placed a ban on Pride Tape. (Getty Images)

As a result, one of the few remaining ways that players can show their allyship has been revoked.

The move comes just a few months after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that teams would no longer be allowed to wear Pride jerseys during warm-up sessions this season, stating that they were seen as a “distraction.”

You may like to watch

He clarified that teams could still host specialty nights, such as Black History Night, Hockey Fights Cancer Night, and Pride Night, and create and sell merchandise to support charities associated with those causes.

“Players who choose to model them can do that,” Bettman said back in June. “It’s really just the question of what’s on the ice.”

In the 2022-2023 hockey season, every NHL team held a Pride Night or a Hockey Is For Everyone Night – though seven players opted not to take part in pregame warmups that saw their teammates wearing Pride jerseys.

NHL Pride Tape
One of the few remaining ways that players can show their allyship has been revoked. (Getty Images)

While the jersey debacle was an issue that affected every player and their participation in certain training sessions, using Pride Tape on hockey sticks has always been an individual choice, which has led NHL fans and LGBTQ+ advocates to wonder why it might be banned.

This latest move to prevent LGBTQ+ representation and advocacy on the ice hasn’t gone over well, with people taking to X (aka Twitter) to voice their concern for where the NHL is heading.

“No Pride jerseys, no Pride Tape,” one person tweeted. “How badly does the NHL want to exclude and show they don’t in any way care about inclusion?”

A second suggested: “The NHL should use Pride Tape to tape their mouths shut.”

And a third claimed that this new ban was “ not about giving the players who want to take part in it a chance – it’s silencing queer voices, and it’s protecting homophobes and transphobes. It’s clear where the NHL stands.”

Earlier this month, the NHL found itself in hot water again, when they were forced to clarify a concerning memo that had been sent to all 32 teams ahead of this hockey season.

The original memo, seen by ESPN included the concerning paragraph: “Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. 

“A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).”

When this memo sparked intense backlash from NHL fans, and confusion from both players and coaches, the NHL was forced to provide an update.

In the hopes of clearing up any “confusion”, the NHL clarified that “players should be encouraged to express themselves off the ice” and that players were allowed to wear “whatever they want” as long as it falls within the guidelines of their team’s dress code.