The Edmonton Eskimos have released wide receiver Christion Jones for homophobic tweets he sent out on the same day as global Pride celebrations.
The swift action comes after Jones tweeted out his opposition to gay and lesbian relationships on Saturday, as people across the world celebrated Global Pride Day.
“Man ain’t suppose to be with a man. A women is not supposed to be with another women,” he wrote.
The tweet was quickly condemned as hateful by people on Twitter. But Jones stood by his comments, sending out more than 50 tweets responding to his detractors over five hours.
“I STAND ON WHAT I SAY. Regret nothing. Apologize to who???,” he wrote.
The team announced Jones had been released from the roster in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday.
“We stand by the LGBTQ2+ community and firmly condemn the language used by Christion Jones. There is no place for such commentary on our team,” the statement read.
The Canadian Football League issued its own statement on Sunday afternoon, saying there is no place in the league for commentary that disparages people on the basis of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.
“Our league makes no claim on perfection, but it does strive to be inclusive, to accept and indeed celebrate our differences, and to respect and honour human rights,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said.
People criticizing Jones argued that he is using his public platform of more than 10,000 followers to disparage LGBTQ relationships in a way that contributes to discrimination. In response, he accused his critics of trying to censor him.
Some Twitter users began to tag the Edmonton football team’s account in response, asking the team whether they would tolerate homophobic comments from a player. The team, along with the rest of the CFL, has embraced Pride month in public campaigns, altering their logos to feature the rainbow flag.
Jones, originally from Alabama, came to Edmonton in August 2019, following a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Janis Irwin, a gay NDP MLA and critic for LGBTQ issues, called Jones’ original tweet disturbing.
“I don’t want any young person to think that who they choose to love is wrong, because it’s not,” she said. “It really hit a lot of us hard, which is why I think the community responded so quickly.”
I’m going to keep this real too…<br>I‘m a woman who loves women. <br>Live life with kindness, and don’t worry about who other people love, <a href=”https://twitter.com/jonessboyy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jonessboyy</a>. <a href=”https://t.co/4rP7nympfz”>https://t.co/4rP7nympfz</a>
While Irwin wants to see Jones apologize, she’s not sure firing him is the right response either. She offered to help educate him on LGBTQ issues in her constituency, which includes Commonwealth Stadium.
“I want to give him the benefit that he wasn’t willing to give our community,” she said in an interview before the team issued its decision. “I’d be willing to share a little about my story and about the story of so many folks in our community.”
When former MLA Graham Sucha suggested Jones reach out to members of Alberta’s LGBTQ community and offered contacts, Jones declined. “I’m a Black man in America, I’ll figure it out,” he tweeted in response.
“It’s absolutely not about anyone trying to silence someone and be racist toward him. It’s about shutting down homophobia, and his tweets were clearly homophobic,” Irwin said.
This is not the first time a CFL player has been publicly condemned for homophobic comments. In 2014, the league fined at least three players for comments about Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted to the National Football League.
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