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Vanessa Foliaki and Karina Brown.

It was the kiss that brought to light the issues of inclusion and diversity in sport and NRLW couple Karina Brown and Vanessa Foliaki were recognised for the moment, taking out the sports category at the LGBTI awards on Friday night.

The pair's relationship went viral in the days following the Holden Women's State of Origin fixture in 2018 when they shared a kiss after playing against each other in the inaugural clash.

Brown, Queensland's captain, has been in a relationship with NSW representative Foliaki for more than four years.

The couple dedicated the award to those who fought hard for equal rights in past generations.

"I think that moment when I look at it, I felt safe to do that," Brown told

"It wasn't about being on television – we didn't even know the camera was watching. But the fact I felt safe to be who I want to be I think is the message.

"We've had a lot of young people come to us saying we've given them a lot of confidence. If we're showing people it's OK to be who we are then we're doing alright."

NRLW couple win LGBTI sport award

Brown also thanked Foliaki, who at times struggled with the publicity the moment had generated.

"It was hard for her and she stands with me today as we fight for to make sure the next generation has a beautiful experience," Brown said.

"She's had a harder journey than me. When our photo went around the world when we kissed the best thing about that photo was when we kissed each other there was no fear."

Loving couple off-field; fierce rivals on-field

NRL manager of Diversity and Inclusion Casey Conway told the game couldn't be prouder to support the couple and help break the stigma in society.

"The fact they come from rugby league is great for us," Conway said.

"Vanessa and Karina's display of affection for each other was symbolic for where we are as a game.

"One of the things I feel that stands out for me is one was from Queensland and one was from NSW, not the fact they were to women. I think we're moving in the right direction."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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