Australian rugby pro Israel Folau says gay people are going to hell if they don’t ‘repent their sins’.
The 29-year-old sportsman, who previously voiced opposition to same-sex marriage, shared an image depicting ‘God’s Plan’ to his Instagram account when one of his 337,000 followers asked him: “What was gods plan for gay people??”
In response, the Wallabies and Waratahs player wrote: “HELL… Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
While the comment appears to have now been deleted, it didn’t take long for followers to pick up on the homophobic sentiment, with many sharing screenshots of the post and voicing their disapproval.
I see unlike Australia, Israel Folau isn't moving with the times pic.twitter.com/sOyvlR7wh5
— Graham Love (@GLove39) April 3, 2018
Doesn't quite fit with Israel Folau's "I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions" line from last year. pic.twitter.com/A023XnxRBd
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) April 3, 2018
I don’t understand how Israel Folau can just get away with his hateful comments. Be religious all you want but that’s a bit much to condemn gay people to hell unless they repent. I’m religious myself & I believe God loves everyone. This world is for everyone. It’s disappointing.
— Candy Lee ???? (@CandidlyCandy_) April 4, 2018
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas, who identifies as gay, also criticised Israel on Twitter, sharing a screenshot of an article about his controversial comment and adding: “What’s his plan for you then[?]”
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) April 4, 2018
Some have pointed out that Israel’s comments are against Rugby Australia’s inclusion policy, which was adopted in 2014.
“Rugby has and must continue to be a sport where players, officials, volunteers, supporters and administrators have the right and freedom to participate regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion and without fear of exclusion,” the policy states.
“There is no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words both on and off the filed must reflect this.”
Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy, breached by @IzzyFolau when he said that gay people are going to “HELL”. Looking forward to seeing inclusion in action when they respond. pic.twitter.com/Sdmun56HmB
— Ashna Basu (@ashnabasu) April 4, 2018
It’s not the first time Israel has caused controversy with his comments on the LGBTQ community, as during the heated debate around marriage equality in Australia last year, Israel tweeted his opposition.
“I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. But personally, I will not support gay marriage,” he said at the time.