By Dirk Smith
Over the last year, Australian Rugby star Israel Folau has been in hot water after making an Instagram post proselytizing his religion and claiming that for homosexuals, “hell awaits you.” Following this and the outcry from his fans, teammates, coaches, as well as the LGBTQI rugby community led to an investigation from Rugby Australia that determined he violated their code of conduct and his contract was subsequently terminated. In addition, he was dumped by his sponsors and appeals denied, effectively ending his career.
As expected, the case was then taking to the courts as Folau sued Rugby Australia for “wrongful termination” for $14 million. The Federal Circuit Court ordered a mediation between the two parties and despite an initial unproductive session, apparently, they reached an agreement last Wednesday. On Wednesday, December 4th, Rugby Australia and Folau released a joint statement settling on a confidential amount.
One particular note of interest is that the statement included a section claiming that Folau he does not condone discrimination of any kind. It read.;
“Mr. Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”
However as of December 8th 2010, Folau’s original post that started this whole drama is still online and his Instagram page appears to have become even more fundamentally religious, suggesting that his actions are in contrast to the above statement from Rugby Australia.
In addition, a video statement released by Folau following the settlement doesn’t mention anything regarding his discrimination of “any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.” Suggesting that he very much does not share this view with Rugby Australia. Instead, he uses his statement video to continue proselytizing his religion and calls for the Australian government to enact legislation to enact a so-called “religious freedom” law to “protect people of faith” and further legalize discrimination against LGBTQI people on the justification of “religious beliefs.”