Israel Folau's anti-LGBT messages 'unacceptable', says Rugby Australia
Australia rugby union star Israel Folau posted new messages on social media on Wednesday
Last Updated: 10/04/19 7:02pm
Australia's rugby union authorities have issued a statement branding Israel Folau's latest anti-LGBT messages posted on social media as "unacceptable".
The New South Wales Waratahs' full-back posted a message on his Instagram account on Wednesday, that said "Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves".
The devout Christian also took to Twitter to criticise Tasmania's decision to become Australia's first state to make it legally optional to list gender on birth certificates.
He tweeted: "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."
Australian rugby authorities later issued a statement that said: "Rugby Australia is aware of a post made by Israel Folau on his Instagram account this afternoon.
"The content within the post is unacceptable. It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the Rugby community.:
"The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit has been engaged on the matter tonight."
Kirsty Clarke, director of sport at Stonewall, and LGBT rights charity, said: "Tackling offensive language is a crucial part of helping people feel welcome in sport."
"Folau's comments are just one example of how much work is still left to do to combat discrimination and the use of hateful language against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
"It's important that Rugby Australia have stepped up to challenge Folau's abusive comments.
"Our work with national governing bodies and International Federations, alongside our Rainbow Laces campaign, aims to give people the confidence to tackle anti-LGBT abuse and show their visible support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, on and off the field.
"The more players, fans, clubs and organisations that stand up for equality, the sooner we kick discrimination out and make sport everyone's game."
International Gay Rugby, recognised by World Rugby as the global organisation for the world's gay and inclusive rugby clubs, said in a statement: "The effects these hateful comments will have on LGBT people are enormously harmful.
"We want all LGBT athletes out there to know that rugby is a sport where you are welcome and respected, a sport of values that doesn't allow for such bigotry or discrimination of any kind.
"We are taking a keen interest on the findings of Rugby Australia's Integrity Unit when they meet tonight and applaud the union for taking the stance that these kinds of comments are unacceptable."
Folau, who last year denied claims he was homophobic following a public backlash to anti-gay remarks he had made on social media, may face sanctions from Rugby Australia and the Waratahs.
In April 2018, Rugby Australia decided not to sanction the Australian international full-back, despite outrage from some sponsors and fans, after he issued a series of posts containing anti-gay messages or imagery.
The 30-year-old claimed he did not intend to cause harm after writing on his Instagram page that gay people would be condemned to "hell" if they failed to "repent".
Folau met with Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and Andrew Hore, general manager of his Super Rugby team New South Wales Waratahs, and also wrote a 2000-word article explaining his beliefs.