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Qantas ‘disappointed’ with rugby star who said gays go to hell, but won’t end sponsorship deal

Josh Jackman April 5, 2018
Israel Folau

Israel Folau (Getty)

Qantas has condemned the rugby star who said that gay people will go to hell.

Israel Folau, who plays for Australia, replied to a commenter on one of his Instagram posts who asked: “what was gods plan for gay people??”

He replied: “HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

(Instagram/izzyfolau)

Folau’s comment is still live.

Qantas, which sponsors the Australian national team, released a statement saying: “We’ve made very clear to Rugby Australia that we find the comments very disappointing,” according to news.com.au.

However, the multi-billion-pound company indicated that its sponsorship deal with the team – which has been called the Qantas Wallabies since 2004 – was not under threat.

This was at least partly due to the fact that Rugby Australia has spoken out against Folau’s comment, reportedly.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 28: Liam Wright and Israel Folau of the Wallabies speak to Tim Nanai-Williams of the Barbarians after the match between the Australian Wallabies and the Barbarians at Allianz Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“Folau’s personal beliefs do not reflect the views of Rugby Australia,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Rugby supports all forms of inclusion, whether its sexuality, race, or gender, which is set out in our Inclusion Policy.

“We understand that Israel’s comment has upset a number of people and we will discuss the matter with him as soon as possible.”

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 21: Israel Folau during the Taini Jamison Trophy match between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and the Malawai Queens at North Shore Events Centre on March 21, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Qantas responded to this with the message: “As a sponsor of Rugby Australia, we’re supportive of their approach towards tolerance and inclusion, which aligns with our own.”

Folau sparked controversy last year when he came out against marriage equality and said he would vote ‘No’ in the country’s postal vote.

His stance went against the position of the Qantas Wallabies, as well as Rugby Australia, but the international player said the outrage prompted by his announcement had not changed his mind.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Israel Folau of the Wallabies is tackled during the Bledisloe Cup match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Folau, 29, insisted that his view did not mean he was discriminatory though, writing on Twitter: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions”.

Following the backlash following last year’s tweet, Folau said he would maintain his opposition to marriage equality.

“I’m going to stand firm on what I’ve said, that’s what I believe in,” he said.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Israel Folau of the Wallabies scores a try during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium on June 22, 2013 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“I guess it doesn’t change anything for me and my mindset is still first hand with what’s going on here with the Wallabies.

“It hasn’t really had an effect on me at all, so I stand firm on what I believe in and what I said.”

He later added: “I stand alongside what I said on that time and I’ve left it there. I stay true to myself and what I believe in.

People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“I thought about all the things that could happen afterwards, and that’s fine for me, I respect everyone and everyone’s opinions which is all good.”

Last week, England rugby star Denny Solomona was charged for using a homophobic slur.

Solomona, who plays for the Sale Sharks in the top tier of English Rugby and is in the English national team, is alleged to have used anti-gay slurs against Worcester fly-half Jamie Shillcock.

SALFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Denny Solomona of Sale Sharks during the Aviva Premiership match between Sale Sharks and Saracens at AJ Bell Stadium on February 16, 2018 in Salford, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Shillcock alleges that Solomona “made a homophobic slur twice” during an altercation 55 minutes into the match.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was attacked last year over his support for same-sex marriage.

An evangelical who opposes marriage equality attacks gay CEO Alan Joyce with a pie
An evangelical who opposes marriage equality attacks gay CEO Alan Joyce with a pie

Joyce had a pie thrust into his face ahead of the postal vote on marriage equality, which led to the Australian Parliament legalising same-sex marriage.

His company also announced last month that it had issued guidance to staff to begin using gender-neutral language onboard flights.

More: alan joyce, Australia, Australia, Gay, israel folau, qantas, sport

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