On Wednesday, Australian rugby pro Israel Folau said that gay people are going to hell if they don’t “repent their sins”.
Folau made the remarks after he shared an image depicting ‘God’s Plan’ to his Instagram account and one of his 337,000 followers asked him: “What was gods plan for gay people??”
Folau’s comments were rightfully condemned, with some people pointing out that his remarks were in violation of 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.”
And now, one of New Zealand’s former immigration ministers, who is now working as an immigration lawyer, Tuariki Delamere has said that New Zealand should ban Folau. The reason he gave was because of Folau’s “bigotry against homosexuals.”
New Zealand’s current Immigration Act says that the immigration minister can bar people from coming into the country if they believe that they are, or could be, a threat to to public order or public interest.
Speaking to Stuff, Delamere said: “There can be no doubt that he [Folau] is a threat to the public interest and a threat to the public order.”
However, as New Zealand law says that all Australian citizens become New Zealand residents as soon as they step foot on the ground, any attempt to bar Folau would have to come while he was still in Australia.
Folau is expected to be travelling to New Zealand later this year as part of the Super Rugby competition and other international fixtures.
It’s not the first time Folau 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.
And Folau isn’t the only Australian sportsman to attract controversy because of his anti-LGBTQ comments. Just before he entered the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, boxer Anthony Mundine said that gay people were “confusing to society.” During his exit view, Mundine suggested that gay people should receive the death penalty. He later backtracked on this, saying that the media were “twisting” his comments and that he was actually referring to pedophiles.