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Israel Folau's controversial GoFundMe page has just been removed.

On Monday morning, Israel Folau’s controversial GoFundMe page, which was raising funds for his legal defence, was deleted.

The crowdfunding platform released a statement to The Age about their decision.

“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.

“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.”

“In the days since Mr Folau’s campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe.

“Our platform exists to help people help others. Australians have shown themselves to be among the most kind and generous people in the world. We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about in the coming months and years.”

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.

It did appear, however, that 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.

In April of this year, Folau posted an image to Instagram that read, “Warning: Drunks. Homosexuals. Adulterers. Liars. Fornicators. Thieves. Atheists. Idolaters. Hell awaits you,” before doubling down in the caption, “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent.”

After refusing to delete the image that was deemed to breach Rugby Australia’s commitment to “inclusiveness”, Folau’s contract was terminated.

That wasn’t his first offence though.

The year prior, in 2018, Folau made an explicit comment on Instagram about “gods [sic] plan for gay people.”

“HELL [is gods plan]” Folau wrote. “Unless they repent for their sins and turn to God.”

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Around Easter this year, Folau shared a message on Twitter in response to Tasmania’s new law, making it the first state or territory in Australia to make the inclusion of gender optional on birth certificates.

“The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free,” the rugby player wrote.

Then just last week, Folau delivered a sermon at a church in Sydney, where he again addressed “young kids in primary school [being able] to have the permission to change their gender.”

The 30-year-old said, “This is what the devil’s trying to do to instil into this government, into this world, into this society and it’s slowly happening.”

Folau has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission, arguing that the clause in his contract protecting religious freedom was breached.

Despite having earned millions across his successful sporting career, Folau asked Australians to put their hands in their pockets and contribute to his legal defence.

While the wording of the GoFundMe Terms and Conditions gives them the discretion to determine what is or isn’t in support of “hate, violence, harassment et al.” a Change.org petition has started imploring the crowd-funding platform to remove Folau’s page.

On Sunday, the petition had garnered 11,068 signatures in just two days, with that figure rapidly rising.

According to creator of the campaign, Jay Taylor, the Sydney-based man says Folau’s campaign is “dragging the ARU [Australian Rugby Union] and Christians through the mud”.

“How is it fair that a man who has millions in property is allowed to ask for money to fight legal fees where he not only broke his contract but discriminated against many different people in the world saying it was based off religion,” he wrote on the petition page.

“There is a disclaimer at the bottom of his Go fund me page that speculates that he can do whatever he wants with the money that he is given as it is a gift. Which means it may not even go towards his legal fees at all.

“The GofundMe terms and conditions state that is prohibited to use their services to raise funds that contribute to any campaign with the explicit purpose of involving the legal defence of hate, discrimination, intolerance of any kind relating to sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity.”

For anyone who does feel compelled to donate to GoFundMe, here are five campaigns that deserve your money far more than Folau’s ever did.

For more on Israel Folau:

Maria Folau hasn’t said a word about her husband’s scandal. But she’s just become part of it.

 We looked at the T&Cs on GoFundMe. There’s no question that Israel Folau breaches them.
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