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Rugby star Israel Folau: I’m not homophobic but gay people are sinful

Josh Jackman April 16, 2018
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Israel Folau of the Wallabies is tackled by Ryan Crotty of the All Blacks 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)

Israel Folau on the pitch (Getty)

Israel Folau, who said gay people will go to hell “unless they repent of their sins,” has denied he is a bigot.

Folau, who plays for Australia’s international rugby union team, came under fire earlier this month after making the comment on his Instagram account.

A number of other rugby players – and Riverdale star KJ Apa – condemned his remark, but Folau remained defiant, even tweeting a cryptic Bible verse about ‘persecuted’ Christians.

(Instagram/izzyfolau)

Rugby Australia bosses decided to take no action against the star.

And writing on sport news site Players Voice – where he is a founding contributor – Folau rejected the idea that he was a homophobe.

Rather, he said, he was trying to save gay people from eternal damnation.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 16: Israel Folau of the Wallabies celebrates after scoring a try during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and the Argentina Pumas at Canberra Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Folau, 29, wrote: “I think of it this way: you see someone who is about to walk into a hole and have the chance to save him.

“He might be determined to maintain his course and doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.

“But if you don’t tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do?”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Israel Folau of the Waratahs looks on during the round five Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on March 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

(Getty)He added that he “didn’t agree” with Rugby Australia’s decision to support same-sex marriage for the postal vote last year, which led to the legalisation of equal marriage.

But the rugby player, who has played 62 times for Australia, denied he hated gay people.

He wrote: “Since my social media posts were publicised, it has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth.”

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 added: “I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”

He appeared to use the deeply flawed ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ defence, before quickly pivoting to the ‘some people I know are gay’ excuse.

Related: How to apologise for homophobia

“One of God’s commandments is to, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ In other words, God loves each and every one of us. He just doesn’t love the sin we live in,” he said.

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)

“I don’t expect everyone to believe what I believe. That goes for teammates, friends and even family members, some of whom are gay.”

He had another message for gay people – and all sinners, because he’s inclusive – saying: “If you choose to believe in Him, repent, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the removal of your sins, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“That will enable you to live the life that God has called us to live.”

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - FEBRUARY 24: Israel Folau of the Waratahs watches on during the round two Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Stormers at Allianz Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
(Getty)

It seems that for him, that life involves telling gay people that they’re sinful.

But it’s fine, he added, because Jesus wants him to do it.

“At times, you can feel alone and down,” he wrote.

“But Jesus told us that when you stand up for Him in this world, you can expect backlash. I find peace in that.”

More: Australia, Australia, homophobic, israel folau, Religion, Rugby, sport

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