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LGBT+ activist loses discrimination complaint against Israel Folau over infamous Instagram post claiming ‘hell awaits’ gay people

Emma Powys Maurice April 22, 2020
Israel Folau arrives ahead of his conciliation meeting with Rugby Australia at Fair Work Commission on June 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.

Israel Folau arrives ahead of his conciliation meeting with Rugby Australia at Fair Work Commission on June 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Mark Metcalfe/Getty)

Israel Folau won’t be further punished over his “hell awaits gay people” comments, after an anti-discrimination board rejected a complaint filed by an LGBT+ activist.

Garry Burns filed a complaint with the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board in December 2019 after over Folau’s Instagram post claiming “hell awaits” gay people.

The queer campaigner also complained about Folau’s comments in a video church sermon linking severe droughts and unprecedented bushfires to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia.

His complaint argued: “By publishing those statements… Mr Folau has portrayed homosexual men and women as people who should be shunned and/or avoided on the grounds of their homosexuality and by doing so, has breached the provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.”

It alleged that Folau’s comments are “objectively capable of incitement of contempt and or hatred of homosexual persons on the ground of their homosexuality,” and demanded an apology and a $100,000 donation to charity.

Israel Folau complaint dismissed for being ‘vexacious’.

However, on Wednesday (April 22) the board sided with Folau and opted to take no further action because it deemed Burns to be “vexacious”.

The board’s president Annabelle Bennett said that the activist had disregarded the confidential nature of the process by issuing a confrontational media release.

This stated, in part: “Fellas, I’m just like a vicious Alsatian dog. Once I grab hold of the leg, I don’t let go until the bone is bare and bloodied. One way or another, I will get that remedy from Mr Folau.”

Because of this, Bennett judged that the complaint was “a flagrant abuse of process” and had not been pursued for genuine reasons under the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act, “but for a collateral purpose, as a means to pressure the respondent to settle with him”.

LGBT+ campaigner will pursue his complaint at tribunal.

In response to Wednesday’s ruling, Burns has written to the Anti-Discrimination Board seeking his complaint be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

He stated that Folau’s alleged breach was public “and so is my work in defence of homosexuals.”

In December Rugby Australia issued an apology for “any harm caused” to Folau as part a settlement over his sacking for anti-gay comments.

The former Australian rugby star reached an undisclosed settlement with Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs on Wednesday, bringing to an end his $14 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

More: Australia, Discrimination, Garry Burns, Homophobia, israel folau, New South Wales, Rugby, Rugby Australia

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