England rugby union player Billy Vunipola has come out in defence of Israel Folau, who faces being fired from the Australian national team.
Vunipola liked an Instagram post made by Folau on Wednesday (April 10), in which he said that “hell awaits” gay people.
After a major backlash, Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby announced their intention to sack the player on Thursday (April 11).
Following the news, Vunipola made a fresh show of support for Folau on the social media network.
Alongside a verse from the bible, he wrote on Friday (April 12): “This morning I got three phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it.
Billy Vunipola defends Israel Folau
“I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people.
“He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be.”
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So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Vunipola added: “Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?”
“Man was made for woman to procreate.”
Fans and LGBT+ allies alike have called the post “disappointing” and “a mistake,” with some speculating that Vunipola could lose his position on the English national team.
The Rugby Football Union, which governs the sport in England, has condemned Vunipola’s actions.
A spokesperson told PinkNews: “Rugby is an inclusive sport and we do not support these views. We will be meeting with Billy to discuss his social media posts.”
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Vunipola’s club Saracens also released a statement, saying: “We recognise that people have different belief systems and we expect everyone to be treated equally with respect and humility.
“As representatives and role models, Saracens players have a responsibility not only to themselves but to the club and wider society.
“Billy Vunipola’s recent social media posts are inconsistent with this and we take this matter very seriously. It will be handled internally.”
Israel Folau fired by Rugby Australia
Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby announced on Thursday (April 11) that their intention to terminate Folau’s contract.
A joint statement read: “Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport. We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.
“Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality.
“Rugby is a sport that continuously works to unite people. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our game and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality is acceptable and no language that isolates, divides or insults people based on any of those factors can be tolerated.
“As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action. In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”
On Friday (April 12) Folau was spotted leaving Rugby Australia’s offices. When asked by a reporter if he regretted his words, he chose not to comment.