Former Rugby captain of the Australian Wallabies, Israel Folau, has posted a bible verse on his official Twitter account following criticism he received last week after saying all gay men will end up in “hell” if they don’t “repent for their sins.”
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake,” he posted, quoting a verse from Matthew 5:11-12.
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Folau is Australia’s most high profile rugby player, and his anti-gay remarks have been condemned by Rugby Australia.
Nigel Owens – a well-known gay referee in the sport – has also voiced his concerns over Folau’s remarks.
“Comments like Israel Folau’s about gay people, and all other types of bullying by all kinds of people, is what can put people like that young boy in that moment where it’s enough to tip them over the edge, because there is a minority who give the impression you cannot be who you truly are,” he wrote in a column for WalesOnline over the weekend.
Owens said he accepted Folau’s right to have his own point of view, but felt his most recent post had crossed an important line.
“Yes, you are entitled to your opinion but one should understand what that opinion can do to young and vulnerable people’s lives, in particular ones in a bad place dealing with their sexuality,” Owens wrote.
“When you say first of all that you respect everybody and their different views and opinions, then you can’t mean that if you are saying gay people should go to hell because of who they are.
“All that should matter is that if you are a decent human being then you should be respected and treated the same as everybody else and you should treat and respect everybody else the same as well too.”
As for Rugby Australia, they said in a statement: “Folau’s personal beliefs do not reflect the views of Rugby Australia.
“Rugby supports all forms of inclusion, whether its sexuality, race, or gender, which is set out in our Inclusion Policy.
“We understand that Israel’s comment has upset a number of people and we will discuss the matter with him as soon as possible.”
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.
Words Corey Schultz