Israel Folau pocketed a pay rise after his first anti-gay comment, court documents show
Australian rugby player Israel Folau was given a pay rise just six months after he first made anti-gay comments on social media, court documents show.
The four-year contract was worth $4.8 million and also offered an extra $900,000 if he took on public appearances and promotion.
Israel Folau first posted anti-gay comments online in April 2018.
Folau’s pay-rise came just months after he said that gay people would go to hell “unless they repent of their sins” on Instagram. He received a warning for his comments but was not fired.
However, Folau doubled down on his anti-LGBT+ comments in April 2019 when he shared a meme on Instagram that warned that gay people would go to hell.
He was subsequently fired in May of this year over his anti-LGBT+ comments. He has since filed an unfair dismissal lawsuit against Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs and is seeking $10 million in compensation.
There was nothing unlawful about his conduct, which was a manifestation of his religion and consistent with his freedom of religious expression.
Details of Folau’s pay-rise were revealed in court papers filed by Rugby Australia as part of its defence against his unfair dismissal lawsuit.
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Folau has made a number of anti-LGBT+ comments in recent years.
Folau has come under fire on a number of occasions over his anti-LGBT+ views. In 2017, he caused controversy when he said that he opposed marriage equality and would be voting ‘No’ in Australia’s postal vote on the issue.
He later attracted significant criticism for his posts targeting the LGBT+ community on both Instagram and Twitter.
Folau’s unfair dismissal lawsuit claims that he is “a devout Christian” and says this was well-known when he signed his contract with Rugby Australia.
“He maintained social media accounts, not for the purpose connected to his employment as a rugby player, but primarily for the purpose of lawfully communicating religious content,” the lawsuit says. “He did this because of his religious faith, which goes to the very essence of his personhood.
“In his own time, Mr Folau uploaded some religious content on his social media accounts, as was his usual practice.
“There was nothing unlawful about his conduct, which was a manifestation of his religion and consistent with his freedom of religious expression.”
When Folau was fired, Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs released a joint statement in which they said they terminated his contract over “a serious breach of the Professional Players Code of Conduct”.