Israel Folau and Rugby Australia reach settlement over sacking for anti-LGBT posts
Last Updated: 04/12/19 11:55am
Former Australia international Israel Folau has settled his unfair dismissal case with Rugby Australia (RA) and Super Rugby team the New South Wales Waratahs.
Folau, a Christian, had been seeking AUS $14m (£7.4m) from RA and the Waratahs, who terminated his four-year contract in May after he posted on social media that hell awaited 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers' and other groups. The terms of the settlement were undisclosed.
After around 14 hours of mediation, RA and Folau announced the news in a joint statement on Wednesday, in which RA apologised to Folau and his family.
"While it was not Rugby Australia's intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus," it said.
"Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused."
Folau caused controversy last month when he linked deadly bushfires in Australia and a devastating drought to the legislation of same-sex marriage and abortion.
It followed previous social media posts, including in April this year, that triggered condemnation from Folau's former team-mates and politicians.
The statement on Wednesday said Folau's social media post "reflected [his] genuinely held religious beliefs" and that he "did not intend to harm or offend" when he uploaded it.
"Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia's commitment to inclusiveness and diversity," it said.
RA said it did not in any way agree with the content of Folau's post.
"Inclusiveness is one of Rugby's core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community," the statement said.
LGBT equality charity Stonewall has criticised Folau.
"Faith is often used to justify anti-LGBT views and attitudes," said Stonewall's director of sport Robbie de Santos.
"Comments like Israel Folau's perpetuate a myth that faith and LGBT inclusion cannot coexist.
"High-profile athletes are role models to thousands of people in their sport, and it's vital that governing bodies provide effective education to ensure they are setting an example of how to be inclusive to everyone who looks up to them."