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Israel Folau's fundraising appeal has been 'paused' after passing $2 million in two days.

– With AAP

A controversial campaign launched to raise funds for ex-Wallaby Israel Folau’s legal stoush with Rugby Australia has been “paused” after donations topped $2 million in 48 hours.

The Australian Christian Lobby, which set up the fundraiser on its website to replace a banned GoFundMe campaign, said the flow of donations since it was opened on Tuesday had been overwhelming.

More than 20,000 people had donated more than $2.2 million by Thursday morning.

“Your overwhelming support means that Israel Folau has raised enough money for now,” the ACL said in a statement on its website.

“ACL, Izzy and everyone involved is humbled and grateful. We are hitting the pause button. But if the case drags on and Israel needs more support, we will reopen this campaign.”

Their fundraising effort was launched to replace an earlier campaign on GoFundMe that was taken down by the platform on Monday for breaching its service guidelines.

Change.org executive director Sally Rugg on Israel Folau. Post continues below video.

“Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors. After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” GoFundMe Australia regional manager Nicola Britton said in a statement, reported The Age.

“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity. While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.

“Our platform exists to help people help others.”

Folau’s appeal for donations came after the termination of his Rugby Australia contract. On Sunday evening, Folau’s donations had exceeded $650,000, making his page the top trending campaign on GoFundMe.

Folau believes his sacking is discrimination on religious grounds
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But Folau’s appeal for money breached the company’s Terms and Conditions.

According to Number 8, Section A of GoFundMe’s Terms and Conditions, campaigns which they deem to be in support of, or for the legal defence of, the following crimes are prohibited.

“Campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases,” the website clearly states.

The counter-fundraiser was launched by the ACL on Tuesday. It said the result not only showed there was support for Folau but a "great movement of quiet Australians have found their voice", which "cannot be ignored".

Folau wanted to raise $3 million for his unfair dismissal case, which he believes amounts to discrimination on religious grounds.

He is seeking $10 million in damages from Rugby Australia and wants his multimillion-dollar contract reinstated after it was pulled by the association.

Folau was sacked following a homophobic social media post which paraphrased a Bible passage, saying; "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.

The caption was beneath an image that read, “Warning: Drunks. Homosexuals. Adulterers. Liars. Fornicators. Thieves. Atheists. Idolaters. Hell awaits you.”

In response to the support from the ACL and members of the public who donated to his recent campaign, Folau said he was "humbled".

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"To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions," he posted on Instagram.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I am humbled by the support I have received from so many of you since Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract after I shared a religious message on social media. To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions. To the thousands of you who donated to my GoFundMe campaign, I am forever grateful. GoFundMe’s decision to shut down my campaign proves the importance of my case; whether you share my faith or believe in my right to express it, attempts to sanction what we believe is a threat to all Australians. I am incredibly thankful for the Australian Christian Lobby, which has not only come to my defence in the media, but generously established a website to receive donations on my behalf.  For those not in a position to donate, your support and prayers will make more of a difference than anything else. God bless!

A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on

ACL managing director Martyn Iles assured supporters on Wednesday night the money raised will solely be used to meet Folau’s legal costs.

“All money raised will only be used for costs associated with ­Israel’s defence,” Iles told The Australian.

“The money will never go to Israel personally and it will not be used by the ACL for other purposes.”

In a video released on Tuesday night, Iles called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make a stand on the issue when parliament resumes next week.

“Israel’s case is every Australian’s case,” Iles said.

Martyn Iles and Israel Folau. Image: Facebook.
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“Thousands and thousands of quiet Australians have donated generously to Folau’s legal defence fund and many of them are the same quiet Australians who stood up for the religious freedom at the federal election only a month ago.

“The activists don’t just want to silence Israel Folau, they want to make an example out of him. They want to make it very clear that for people of faith, and people with beliefs that fit outside the narrow band of political correctness, there is no place for them.”

Folau, who has received salary payments in excess of $10 million throughout his sporting career, said last week Rugby Australia had made it clear they “will divert significant resources to fight me in court”, which is why he launched the campaign in the first place.

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