Rugby star Israel Folau escapes sanctions after telling gay people to ‘repent their sins’ or go to hell
Rugby Australia has confirmed it will take no action against Israel Folau after he told gay people to repent or go to hell.
Folau, a player in Australia’s national rugby union squad the Wallabies, came under fire earlier this month after saying that gay people are destined for hell on his personal Instagram account.
When an Instagram user asked what God’s plan was for gay people, the fullback responded: “HELL – unless they repent their sins and turn to God.”
The player, who had previously spoken out strongly against marriage rights for gay couples, repeatedly refused to apologise for the remarks, insisting he is entitled to express his religious beliefs and suggesting he was being “persecuted”.
Rugby Australia has now confirmed that no action will be taken against the player.
In a short statement it said: “Rugby Australia will not sanction Israel Folau for his comment posted on a social media platform on April 4.”
Referring to a lengthy article penned by Folau, Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said: “Israel clearly articulated his religious beliefs and why his faith is important to him and has provided context behind his social media comment.
“In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel’s position.
“Rugby Australia will use this experience as an opportunity to remind all employees of their obligation to use social media in a respectful way.”
The rugby player, who has played 62 times for Australia, denied he hated gay people in the piece for Players Voice.
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.”
Folau added: “I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”
He then proceeded to say he has respect for “teammates, friends and even family members, some of whom are gay.”
Folau wrote: “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.”
“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 continued.
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“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?”
He said: “I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.”