Folau unable to reach settlement with Rugby Australia

Folau unable to reach settlement with Rugby Australia

Israel Folau was unable to reach an agreement with Rugby Australia (RA) today at a Fair Work Commission hearing over his sacking in May.

The matter will now be referred to the High Court.

Following the Fair Work hearing, Mr Folau said: “Very, very disappointed about the outcome today, but I would like to thank all those who have supported me throughout this time, and I’ll continue to stand up for the freedoms of all Australians.”

In a television interview with Sky News yesterday, Mr Folau said RA offered him money to take down his social media post which said “hell awaits” homosexuals, among others.

Mr Folau said he turned down RA’s offer, stating: “I couldn’t do that… I couldn’t live with that.”

RA has responded to Mr Folau’s claim by saying it is “completely untrue”, and ahead of today’s hearing the footballer remained silent when asked by reporters for details about the offer.

In the interview, Mr Folau also said he hopes for an apology from RA, saying: “I’d be happy with that.”

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) stopped accepting donations for Mr Folau’s legal case after they raised over $2 million.

On their website, the ACL said they will re-open the campaign “if the case drags on and Israel needs more support.”

OPINION: This isn’t a matter freedom of speech or religion

This whole situation is one bad decision followed by another for Israel Folau. It is not a case of religious freedom or freedom of speech. It is a matter of spreading hatred and bigotry aimed at specific groups of people, particularly those of the LGBT+ community.

Saying “hell awaits” homosexuals is hatred. Mr Folau can say whatever he wants provided it doesn’t discriminate or incite hatred toward a group of people based on their individual characteristics — there are protections for freedom of speech and religion in Australia. However, to spread these hateful messages on a public forum, or indeed anywhere, is bigotry, which is a different thing entirely. It’s hypocritical for him to now claim that he is being discriminated against.

But regardless of what he said, he voluntarily entered into a contract with Rugby Australia that outlined what he was and wasn’t allowed to say or post on social media. He violated that contract and lost his job. Where is the injustice in that? Nowhere.

The injustice lies in the hateful messages Mr Folau has spread on social media and he cannot hide his bigotry behind ‘religious freedom’. The effect that Mr Folau’s words have, particularly on those in the LGBT+ community, is not just hurtful, but justifies discriminatory attitudes.

These messages add to the negative feelings or thoughts many in the community already have about themselves and compound their challenges. It’s more harmful than meets the eye, which is why it is still such a pressing issue in Australia.

Balanced journalism is essential to keeping people properly informed. If you feel our coverage of this story is biased, please let us know.