NHL’s Continued Silence on Wayne Simmonds’ Anti-Gay Slur is Unacceptable

by Carolyn Simon

Washington – The National Hockey League (NHL) has yet to respond to growing calls from the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy organizations to revisit the incident between Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds and New York Rangers winger Sean Avery in which Simmonds appears to have shouted “f*cking f*ggot” at Avery during an altercation. HRC is calling on the NHL to immediately re-open its investigation, pay close attention to the footage of Simmonds shouting at Avery, and take appropriate action that makes it clear homophobia has no place in hockey.

Sean Avery is a straight ally and strong supporter of marriage equality. Earlier this year, Avery participated in HRC’s New Yorker’s for Marriage Equality video campaign.

“Sean Avery is an example of a responsible professional athlete who uses his platform to advance equality. The NBA’s action following similar incidents of homophobia on the basketball court is another good example,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “In comparison, the NHL’s reluctance to engage in tackling homophobia is alarming and absolutely the wrong thing to do. The NHL must act immediately to send a strong message that this type of homophobia has no place on the ice.”

Following Monday night’s game, Simmonds couldn’t remember what he said. However, the next day, his memory had cleared considerably – and Simmonds has since been insistent in denying that he ever used the offensive slur.

The NHL issued a statement yesterday following a brief look into the matter. In the statement, a league spokesperson said NHL players were held to “higher standards with respect to their conduct both on and off the ice” and that while “the emotion involved in certain on-ice confrontations may lead to the use of highly charged and sometimes offensive language and commentary, certain lines cannot be crossed.”

The clock is ticking, and equality supporters across the nation are waiting for the NHL to right this wrong.

The league must immediately take appropriate action to hold Wayne Simmonds accountable for his conduct. The league has a responsibility to send a clear message that these types of anti-gay slurs can have serious consequences.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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