Wallabies star Israel Folau has found himself the centre of swarms of backlash after writing on Instagram he believed gay people should be in “hell”.
Folau, who has 337,000 followers on the photo-sharing platform, made the comment on an image he posted about “god’s plan”.
“@izzyfolau what was gods [sic] plan for gay people??” user Mike Sephton-Poultney wrote on the image.
“@mike_sephton HELL… Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God,” Folau replied.
A Rugby Australia spokesman told Fairfax Folau had deleted the comment after backlash inevitably ensued.
It appears Folau violated Rugby Australia’s inclusion policy, which states:
“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. There is no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words both on and off the field must reflect this.”
While social media was awash with criticism, with many pointing to the rugby star’s failure to “move with the times”, journalist Eliza Barr reassured those upset that Christianity does not enforce or excuse homophobia.
“Hello, Christian here. Please do not let Israel Folau’s comments today inform your view of what Jesus asked of his followers, which was to love everyone relentlessly. God created and loves ALL humans in spite of our flaws and quirks and it’s important you hear that. Thanks,” she wrote.
Debate surrounding Falou’s homophobia, with many calling it “sad”, “pathetic” and “homophobic” was soon trending on Twitter.
Folau’s comments come just six months after he publicly denounced marriage equality during the national debate.
“I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage,” he tweeted.
Perhaps now is a sound time for us to be reminded that being religious doesn’t give anyone an excuse to be an asshole.