NFL addresses Harrison Butker LGBTQ+ comments as petition to axe star gathers 85,000 signatures

Kansas City Chiefs star Harrison Butker

A petition calling for NFL star Harrison Butker to be axed from the Kansas City Chiefs has garnered more than 85,000 signatures, after comments he made about gay Pride month were widely condemned.

The American footballer, who plays for the same team as Taylor Swift’s boyfriend Travis Kelce, was slammed after making a speech at Catholic Benedictine College over the weekend, in which he labelled Pride month “sinful” and told female students that the majority of them would be happiest as wives and mothers.

“I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you,” he said, during a commencement speech at the college in Atchison, Kansas.

“Some of you may go on to lead successful careers but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.

“I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say her life truly started when she started living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

Later, he addressed the male graduates directly, telling them to be unapologetic in their masculinity. “As men, we set the tone of the culture, and when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in,” he claimed.

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All the students should have “true God-centred pride, not the deadly sins sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it,” added the Chiefs’ kicker, who also attacked the Democrats’ stance on abortion.

On Tuesday (14 May), a change.org petition was launched demanding Butker be removed from the team.

“These dehumanising remarks against LGBTQ+ individuals, attacks on abortion rights and racial discrimination perpetuate division and undermine human rights,” the petition reads. “It is unacceptable for such a public figure to use their platform to foster harm rather than unity.”

The player’s comments were also addressed by the National Football League, which stated his views are “not those of the NFL”.

Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice-president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, told People: “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. His views are not those of the NFL as an organisation.

“The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Justice Horn, the former chairman of the Kansas City LGBTQ Commission, also criticised the speech, writing on Twitter/X: “Harrison Butker doesn’t represent Kansas City nor has he ever. Kansas City has always been a place that welcomes, affirms and embraces our LGBTQ+ community members.”

LGBTQ+ charity GLAAD’s president and chief executive, Sarah Kate Ellis, branded Butker’s comments “inaccurate, ill-informed and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women”.

Butker has not yet commented publicly about the backlash.