opinion

Israel Folau is urging people for donations on GoFundMe. But he doesn't belong there.

The highest trending GoFundMe campaign in the country right now is for Israel Folau’s legal fund.

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.”

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.

Just this 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.”

This is in the midst of Folau’s legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission, arguing that the clause in his contract protecting religious freedom was breached.

And then, this week, Folau asked Australia if they might like to pay for it.

Folau, a man who not long ago was making $2 million for every season of footy he was playing, wants Australians to put their hands deep in their pockets and hand over $3 million. That should do it.

In two days, Folau has raised more than $300,000. That number is growing by the second.

But as his campaign sits proudly on the homepage of GoFundMe, it’s difficult not to notice the stark contrast between his plight, and that of the Australians around him.

Former teammate and Wallaby great Drew Mitchell posted a screenshot of GoFundMe to Twitter on Friday afternoon.

His commentary read, “YOU are in a fight that YOU chose to be in after YOU broke the terms of YOUR contract, the kids below are in a fight they NEVER wanted to be in & yet YOU think YOU deserve donations more than they do??!!”

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Directly next to Folau’s campaign, is one for a little girl named Piper.

Just three weeks before Piper’s first birthday she was diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma.

Tumours had spread through her tiny body, growing on her liver, stomach, abdomen and chest.

After a recent CT scan, Piper’s parents, Meagan and Laurence, were told there was no cure. The treatment would perhaps prolong her life a little.

Meagan and Laurence haven’t asked for anything. It was a friend who set up the page.

They can’t work. And they have two other children, five-year-old Cayden, and three-year-old Franklin.

On Thursday night, it was reported that little Piper had died.

Their family have made barely a third of what Folau has. And that’s far more than most.

Then there’s nine-year-old Jensen. He has a tumour in his liver and a high risk hepatoblastoma. Jensen requires full time care, so his parents have had to step back from the family business.

Davie is in a life threatening condition. He collapsed in a bathroom and has a brain haemorrhage. He has no family.

Piper. Jensen. Davie.

All dealt a rough hand – confronted with a struggle they did nothing at all to deserve.

Folau breached his multi-million dollar contract. Wearing a Rugby Australia jersey, and representing the Wallabies, came with a responsibility. One that was a fair exchange for the amount of money he was being paid.

“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations,” Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said in a statement.

“It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.”

To think of all the people in the world who could do with our help. Whose lives would change if they were suddenly gifted $300,000. All the meaningful causes we could get behind.

And instead, it’s Folau, and his right to tell gay people they’re going to hell that we’re choosing to support.

Surely the stories of Piper, Jensen and Davie can put Folau’s ‘legal battle’ into perspective.

You can donate to Pride Foundation Australia, which supports members of the LGBTQI+ community who are doing it tough. 

Tags: israel-folau , news-stories , opinion , sport
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