Israel Folau fired by Rugby Australia for anti-gay comments
Israel Folau has had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia (RA) because of his anti-gay comments on social media.
Folau was fired in April after sharing a meme that “hell awaits” gay people, but requested a hearing which took place on Friday (May 17). His termination was upheld at the meeting.
According to the BBC, RA chief executive Raelene Castle told a press conference: “Rugby Australia did not choose to be in the situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue the course of action resulting in today’s outcome.”
“Our clear message for all rugby fans is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork,” Castle continued.
Folau said in a statement on Friday: “I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.
“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression. The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word.
“Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.”
The rugby star posted a meme on Instagram to tell gay people that “hell awaits” them on April 10, after Tasmania passed reforms to improve transgender rights.
The New South Wales Waratahs player posted a picture on Instagram “warning drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators – hell awaits you.”
Folau captioned the picture: “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
He also tweeted a link to news story about Tasmania’s reforms of trans rights with the comment: “The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways.”
After the posts, Folau lost sponsorships with Land Rover and Asics.
Pride in Sport Index commended RA’s “swift” decision
Rugby Australia is a member of Pride in Sport Index (PSI), a programme in Australia which helps sporting organisations with the inclusion of the LGBT+ community.
PSI co-founder Andrew Purchas said in a statement: “We commend Rugby Australia, as well as New South Wales Rugby Union, for their leadership and courage throughout this process.
“Their swift and decisive actions shows that homophobic and transphobic discrimination is not acceptable in sport and individuals – irrespective of their social or professional stature – will be held accountable for their words and actions.”