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Israel Folau has contract terminated by Rugby Australia over anti-LGBT social media posts

Folau "deeply saddened" by decision and is considering his options

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Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle reflects on the decision to terminate Israel Folau's contract

Rugby Australia has terminated Israel Folau's contract following his anti-LGBT social media posts.

The 30-year-old had previously been found to have committed a "high-level breach" of the code of conduct over the posts he made in April.

Folau, a devout Christian, said on his Instagram account that "hell awaits" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators".

Folau also wrote on Twitter to criticise Tasmania's decision to become Australia's first state to make it legally optional to list gender on birth certificates; comments which Rugby Australia had previously described as "unacceptable".

I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.
Israel Folau

The full-back had been warned in the past over making homophobic comments on social media in 2018, but did not face disciplinary action at the time.

Rugby Australia chief-executive Raelene Castle told a press conference on Friday: "We are here to announce that Wallabies and Waratahs player Israel Folau has today been issued a sanction directing termination of his playing contract for his high-level breach of the professional players' code of conduct.

Israel Folau departs after Rugby Australia's code of conduct hearing
Image: Folau says he is considering his options

"The three-member panel of John West, QC; chair, Kate Eastman and John Boultbee, provided its final written decision today in relation to the code of conduct hearing over Folau's social media post on April 10, 2019.

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"While Rugby Australia accepts the panel's decision directing termination of Israel Folau's contract for his high-level breach of the code of conduct, we want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game.

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"In rugby, there is not a place for someone that puts their views or position in front of everyone else's.

"That is true of every employee that we have at Rugby Australia, not just the player base, every employee for Rugby Australia, we all need to work together and lived to the values of Rugby Australia."

Israel Folau in action for the Waratahs
Image: Folau was found to have committed a high-level breach of rugby's code of conduct

Folau said he was "deeply saddened" by the decision and is considering his options.

He said in a statement: "It has been a privilege and an hour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love.

"I am deeply saddened by today's decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.

"As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression.

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"The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word. Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club or country.

"I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to stay true to our beliefs. We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community.

"Thank you also to those who have spoken out in my defence, some of whom do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them."

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