Australian rugby star Israel Folau has just been gutted from his team due to his recent homophobic post on Instagram last week. The post read,
“Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters; HELL AWAITS YOU – REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES”
He further commented on his post,
“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.”
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 KJV”
Seeing all his recent posts from his Instagram account, he clearly uses his platform to preach his religious beliefs to his followers, which is somewhat uncalled for, but also not illegal. There might be nothing wrong speaking your opinion freely, but if that opinion is controversial, expect a lot of criticisms coming your way. That is exactly what happened to Israel Folau, and is now without a team.
The termination wasn’t exactly done without a warning. Last year, the rugby star has been already warned for a homophobic comment that read,
“HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
A response to a tweet that asked him,
“God’s plan for gay people?”
Moreover, he clearly doesn’t have any intention of addressing his Instagram post. Raelene Castle, Rugby Australia Chief Executive, and Andrew Hore, New South Wales Union Chief Executive stated that they tried to reach out to Israel Folau, but there was no direct communication between him and the organizations that were represented.
With the outrage still heating up on the rugby star’s Instagram post, Castle and Hore had to no choice but to address the growing issue by stating,
“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,”
“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.”
And finally, Castle had to take action and said,
“#IsraelFolau [Israel Folau] is shown the door. Rugby boss Raelene Castle says the game’s integrity unit “has recommended termination.” Folau “was unapologetic and that left us with no option.”
The Aftermath of Israel Folau’s Termination
As expected, a mix of reactions were flooding the Chief Executive’s Twitter account regarding the subject. Being an all-star rugby player that was gutted from their favorite team, you can bet that there will be thousands of fans asking for your head.
Although, some did express their gratitude for the immediate response and rightful termination. The International Gay Rugby for one, was thankful for the swift action in terminating the player’s contract by stating,
“We are really pleased with how quickly the unions responded,”
They then added,
“The reaction of the whole rugby community shows that discriminatory views have no place in the sport. A number of people in the LGBT community are vulnerable because of the discrimination they have had to face. Reading what was put up last week is harmful enough, but it is far worse when it comes from top stars who are well-paid ambassadors for the sport.”
Even the now-famous ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ director Taika Waititi stood for the LGBT community, tweeting “jaaaardup Israel”, which means Shut up.
Of course, there were still those who believe in freedom of speech, and those who believe in each one’s own right to his opinion. Each of these comments try hard to justify this homophobic post to the executives and other people, while the other half are trying hard to explain on why the homophobic post was a threat to the whole community.
The issue then reached the ears of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. He expressed his take on this issue stating,
“I’m very mindful of the fact that he’s a role model, he’s a person in a position of influence, and I think that with that comes responsibility. This is our rainbow community, there’s a lot of vulnerable people there.”
Out of all the comments, posts, and reasons that were thrown from both sides, this was the most truthful comment you can ever get. It is true that Israel Folau’s wasn’t in any violation for posting such beliefs, but he should have expected that there are also millions of people that supports the LGBT community with the same rights of speech. And let us not forget, he did get warned last year and there were code of conducts specifically mentioning these types of posts and comments.