US rapper Macklemore has hit back at calls for him to be banned from performing his pro-gay hit ‘Same Love’ at the NRL Grand Final, saying the complaints are only motivating him to “go harder”.

Former first-grade player Tony Wall who played a handful of games for the Western suburbs in the 1990s started a petition calling on the NRL to stop Macklemore from performing the song and to take a “neutral position on the question of same-sex marriage.”

“It will be very difficult to watch the NRL Grand Final with my wife and five young children as the event will be heavily politicised with a LGBTIQ anthem taking centre stage,” he writes.

The so-called gay anthem, which topped the charts in Australia in 2013, was recorded during the campaign to legalise same-sex marriage in Washington state in the US, in 2012 and includes the lyrics “no freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

Macklemore – real name Benjamin Haggerty – took the chance to respond during an interview on US radio program The Cruz Show this morning.

“I’m actually going to Australia to perform at, kind of, the Superbowl of their rugby league,” Macklemore told the show’s co-hosts J Cruz, Krystal B and Jeff Garcia.

“It’s interesting because I am playing ‘Same Love’, and they are going through, right now, trying to legalise same-sex marriage.

“I’m getting a lot of tweets from angry old white dudes in Australia. I think there is a petition today to ban me from playing.”

The rapper said the petition, rather than deterring him from playing the song, has motivated him to give the performance his all.

“Imma go harder, Imma love,” he said.

Tony Abbott has backed a push to have the performance cancelled, but his senior colleague George Brandis has called that bizarre, saying he thought the former Prime Minister believed in freedom of speech.

Related: Rugby Player Israel Folau Against Marriage Equality