Rugby fans ordered to remove Pride flags at disgraced Israel Folau’s Catalans Dragons debut
Rugby League fans were asked to remove rainbow Pride flags as disgraced rugby player Israel Folau made his Rugby League debut yesterday.
The player – who was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs and Australia’s national team last year after claiming that “hell awaits” gay people – signed a new deal last month, to play for France-based RFL Super League team Catalans Dragons.
Israel Folau has been widely condemned for his history of making homophobic comments.
In December 2019, the disgraced rugby star faced a storm of criticism for claiming the horrific Australian bushfires were “God’s judgement” for legalising gay marriage.
In his first match in the Rugby League on February 15, Folau scored a try for the Catalans Dragons – who faced a strong backlash for signing him.
But during the match, a security official asked a fan to remove a rainbow Pride flag that was draped over a railing, appearing to suggest that it was covering up some of the advertising hoarding in the French stadium.
Other people who’d carried rainbow Pride flags to the game to protest Folau and his homophobic views were also asked to remove them.
In a tweet, Chris Grey, the brother of one of the protesters, wrote that the decision made by security was “absolutely disgusting.”
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“Catalan have signed a known homophobe who cannot be registered to play rugby in Australia, and are now acting like this. Action must be taken. It is unacceptable.”
This is my sister at the @catalansdragons Vs @CTRLFC game. She has been asked to remove her rainbow flag at homophobic @IzzyFolau debut. Absolutely disgusting. @SuperLeague @TheRFL @PeterSmithYEP pic.twitter.com/telN5j0jol
— Chris Grey (@chris_grey___) February 15, 2020
Allison Grey (pictured above) said she was twice asked to remove the flag that she’d wrapped around herself on the basis it was “against health and safety” and “against club policy”.
Grey noted that Catalans Dragons flags were permitted to be flown during the game.
Bernard Guasch, the Catalans Dragons chairman, has said that the club doesn’t agree with Folau’s views and has signed an agreement with the Rugby League that means any transgression by Folau will result in the termination of his contract.