Former Australia full-back Israel Folau was sacked for making a homophobic comment on social media Photo: AFP
rugby union

Folau, Rugby Australia reach settlement in anti-gay sacking row

35 Comments
By Saeed Khan

Rugby Australia and Israel Folau reached a settlement Wednesday that will end the former Wallaby's multi-million dollar lawsuit over his sacking for anti-gay comments.

Rugby Australia apologized for "any hurt or harm" caused to Folau as part of a joint statement confirming the confidential agreement after two days of mediation aimed at avoiding a drawn-out and expensive court case.

Folau, an ardent Christian, was fired in May over a social media post warning "hell awaits" gay people and others he considers sinners.

"Rugby Australia and Mr Folau wish each other well for the future. The parties do not intend to comment further on the terms of their settlement as it is confidential," the statement said

The 30-year-old former Wallabies full-back was set to demand A$14 million (U.S.$9.5 million) in compensation, claiming he was unlawfully dismissed under legislation that bans sacking a person because of their religion.

Folau had claimed his religious freedom was at stake, winning backing from prominent conservatives and the Australian Christian Lobby, which raised more than $2 million in just two days to help pay his legal fees.

The sport's governing body, which would have faced financial ruin had it lost the case, had argued the termination for "high-level" misconduct was purely contractual.

The joint statement acknowledged that Folau was expressing genuinely held religious beliefs and had not meant to offend anyone with his post.

"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.

The statement added that Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby "do not in any way agree with the content" of Folau's post.

The governing body also apologized for any hurt caused to Folau and his family, while Folau said he had not intended to cause any harm to the sport of rugby.

Folau was originally seeking $10 million but boosted the amount by $4 million in an updated statement of claim last week, arguing he could have led the Wallabies to Rugby World Cup victory in Japan.

The statement made no mention of Folau's playing future.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments

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Arrogant pseudo-christians like him must remember that hell awaits too for judging homophobic clowns..

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I'm sorry to see that the Australian Christian Lobby is providing him financial support, rather than providing him a better education in the teachings of Christ. Glad this is settled and I hope he fades into obscurity now, at least until he grows as a human being.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

People like him and Pat Roberts, both of whom blames disasters on gay people, give Christians a bad name.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Israel Folau came across as judgmental and his posts were not a good or accurate representation Christianity or the Bible. I'm glad there was backlash against him.

At the same time Rugby Australia's response was heavy handed. If we start firing everyone who says something 'offensive' in their private time and platform there will be no one left.

No doubt Rugby Australia settled because they knew they would lose if it went to court.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

It's interesting that so many people who condemn Folau and other Christians for their beliefs are sympathetic to Islam despite the horrific punishments such as the chopping off of hands for thieves, heads for homosexuals and the stoning to death for adulterers, that are carried out ---in public as well just to drive the points of sinfulness home. In comparison what Falau has uttered is a mere bagatelle surely.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Good on him and its good that he won.

His comments were not directed against his employer, his work mates or even the umpires - so he should not have been fired. The only reason he was sacked is because a major sponsor QANTAS, its CEO Alan Joyce is gay so he threaten to pull sponsorship.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

I wonder how much he got.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Meanwhile its acceptable for Megan Rapinhoe to state that you can only win championships with gay players (diverse sexuality) and is awarded world awards.

If we're going to be inclusive to permit any type of sexuality into the sport conversation then why close the door on ultra religious Christian quotes?

Is Falau's belief outlawed? No it's not, regardless of how stupid we think it is. If we are such an inclusive society now that we see men kissing men on tv commercials before 9pm, then why not permit the views of those strongly opposed to it?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I guess money meant more to him than his morals.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It's interesting that so many people who condemn Folau and other Christians for their beliefs are sympathetic to Islam

I think you are talking about virtue signallers here.

People with any spine and sense of honesty should attack religious bigotry of any stripe.

not a good or accurate representation Christianity

Many, perhaps most, Christian groups see homosexuality as a sin. There are of course different degrees of hatred, dislike and disapproval but it seems dislike of homosexuality is pretty mainstream in Christianity.

It’s a question of degree.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The sport's governing body, which would have faced financial ruin had it lost the case, had argued the termination for "high-level" misconduct was purely contractual.

A$ 14 million would have financially ruined the Aussie Rugby Federation?  Seems improbable or otherwise whoever is running it is doing an awful job.

I await full details of the settlement being leaked over the coming weeks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Andrew Crisp

Good on him and its good that he won.

What makes you think he won? He may have settled for $1 and "an apology for any hurt and harm".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bigotry should have no place or platform in sports.

It's interesting that so many people who condemn Folau and other Christians for their beliefs are sympathetic to Islam despite the horrific punishments such as the chopping off of hands for thieves, heads for homosexuals and the stoning to death for adulterers,

Not all Muslims conform to the above stereotypes. In much the same way not all Christians are homophobes, paedophiles or misogynists.

Beliefs that espouse hate and bigotry should always be called out. But conversely, such beliefs promoted by individuals often go against the core message of religions.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What puzzles me is Rugby Australia's post settlement statement:

Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby do not in any way agree with the content of the social media post.

Israel Folau was posting religious statements about where people might end up in the afterlife. Being a purely secular body, on what basis can they agree or disagree on this theological matter?

Inclusiveness is one of rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community.

Israel Folau wasn't in any way suggesting that LGBTQI people be excluded from rugby.

While I didn't like what Israel said, this statement reveals the idiocy of Rugby Australia's accusations and actions, and why they settled out of court, knowing that they would lose big time in court.

In spite of Israel's Folau's misguided comments I'd say this was a victory for common sense.

The downside though is that Israel Folau will continue to make a loving God look mean.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

But conversely, such beliefs promoted by individuals often go against the core message of religions.

’Core message’ is very difficult to define when it comes to dealing with long texts like the Bible or the Koran and Hadiths. I’ve heard many versions of a ‘core message’.

In this particular case, his dislike of homosexuality is well founded in the Bible. It’s no accident that most Christian denominations don’t approve of homosexuality. They do have the text on their side. The idea that Jesus cane along to correct his dad’s idea that they should be executed is very confusing and a bit specious.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

’Core message’ is very difficult to define when it comes to dealing with long texts like the Bible or the Koran and Hadiths. 

Can't speak for the Koran or Hadiths but Jesus summed up the core message of the Bible when he replied to someone asking him which was the greatest commandment:

Jesus replied to him, ‘You should love the Lord your God completely: Love him with all your mind. Love him with all that you are. Love him in all that you think. This is the greatest rule and the most important of all God's Laws . The second rule is also important, like the first one. You should love other people as much as you love yourself. All God's Laws that Moses gave us, and all the things that the prophets wrote about God come from these two rules.’

Matthew 22:37‭-‬40

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Israel Folau was posting religious statements about where people might end up in the afterlife. Being a purely secular body, on what basis can they agree or disagree on this theological matter?

One doesn't have to be a theist to have an opinion on theological matters. Why would they? By what logic does having an opinion on religious matters require the belief in a god?

I can argue that if the god Falau claims to speak for was a compassionate god, he would strike someone like Falau down for his hurtful comments. If the hell he believes in is true, he is almost certainly going there.

I don't believe in a god, but that doesn't prevent me from being able to discuss fantastical ideas.

Inclusiveness is one of rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community.

 

Israel Folau wasn't in any way suggesting that LGBTQI people be excluded from rugby.

Inclusiveness, contrary to what your comment would seem to suggest, does not mean simply not being excluded. That's a lack of exclusiveness. Not inclusiveness. There's a big wide area between exclusive and inclusive. It's a spectrum, not a binary on/off situation.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's interesting that so many people who condemn Folau and other Christians for their beliefs are sympathetic to Islam despite the horrific punishments such as the chopping off of hands for thieves, heads for homosexuals and the stoning to death for adulterers, that are carried out

Yeah, it doesn't seem you've properly understood what we are talking about. I think all religion is a joke, but people are free to believe the delusions they want - if they do not impose those upon others. People are also individuals and attributing all parts of a religion to all believers is a logical fallacy, as there are too many examples - in all religions - of people who are entirely reasonable and contributing members of society in spite of the disgusting parts of their religion (which, most religions have disgusting parts).

When people start getting all racist against Muslims, we defend the people. Not the religion. I'm not going to defend Islam, Christianity, or any religion, as I think that religion is an oxymoron in and of itself; it's a logical fallacy. But if you start hating on Muslims and talk about applying your bigotry to individuals who have not done anything to deserve that condemnation, I will defend them. If you start hating on a terrorist, I'll leave you at it.

So your premise that people are 'sympathetic to Islam' is a red herring. The people who you are talking about in your quote are not sympathetic to Islam, they (we) are sympathetic to other humans who are being cursed at for their beliefs. And we condemn Falau for the exact same thing we defend those humans, because some guy is cursing out people for their existence and/or beliefs.

The alternative is that we stay silent. That would give the impression that his speech is acceptable in proper society. It's not. Speech like his is a poison. He has the right to speak his poison, and we have the responsibility to call it out.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Concerned Citizen

You often like to tell us the ‘true’ meaning of Christianity and I’m just interested in how you can claim to speak for a highly schismatic religion consisting of thousands of denominations. A bit arrogant, don’t you think?

I know of some Christian denominations who marry same sex couples in their churches. I know of others who preach that hell awaits homosexuals. I know of others who don’t accept the idea of hell. I know of others who believe the earth is 6,000 years old.

What is the ‘true’ message of Christianity on homosexuals. Let them get married or wait for them to roast in hell?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Jimizo

You often like to tell us the ‘true’ meaning of Christianity and I’m just interested in how you can claim to speak for a highly schismatic religion consisting of thousands of denominations. A bit arrogant, don’t you think?

I wasn't giving my personal opinion, In response to you writing "Core message’ is very difficult to define when it comes to dealing with long texts like the Bible". I was just quoting the words of the founder of Christianity himself.

This is core Christian teaching from the founder, and despite the existence of thousands of denominations, none will dispute what the founder himself said.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Jimizo

What is the ‘true’ message of Christianity on homosexuals. Let them get married or wait for them to roast in hell?

Simple answer: Neither.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Simple answer: Neither.

Who decided that?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Concerned citizen

Dodging the key questions which Falau’s comments raise and, incidentally, many Christians tell you love others as you love yourself ( probably plagiarized from Rabbi Hillel who in turn got it from someone else and...) is the most important commandment. It seems more moral and important than praising god.

You do often tell us the ‘true’ meaning of Christianity so perhaps this question should be easy for you:

Do you think homosexuals should be treated as equals ( made in God’s image ) and given the full rights afforded to straight people?

If you answer no, I get the sense you are with Falau in your hatred, dislike or disapproval ( I’m guessing disapproval in your case ) but to a different degree.

Just be clear and honest about where you stand.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Simple answer: Neither.

So what is it then? Can you give us chapter and verse like before?

If not, can you give us the particular denomination, scholar/preacher/televangelist who teaches the correct view or is it just your idea?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland

Simple answer: Neither.

Who decided that?

Here I'll give my (informed) opinion.

1: The Bible defines marriage as a heterosexual union, never as a homosexual union.

2: Homosexuality doesn't get someone into hell any more than heterosexuality is a ticket to heaven. What gets us in hell is a voluntary decision that we don't want to be with God, so being the gentleman He is, God allows us to freely go elsewhere.

That's the simple answer.

Ps: In the New Testament homosexuality is not defined any worse than any other thing that displeases God. Rather, violence, greed, selfishness, judgmentalism, haughtiness, etc are viewed far worse.

As I read and understand it, while homosexuality is not what God had in mind for human sexuality and He'd prefer obedience in this, He would rather see happy and loving homosexuals than self righteous and judgemental heteros.

These are important points and nuances that Israel Folau missed. That's why (among other reasons) I didn't like what he posted.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Here I'll give my (informed) opinion.

Well the question was who decided that neither of the given suggestions was the true message of Christianity. I wasn’t asking your opinion - that would have been a different question.

Your answer shows that you were the one who decided that neither of the given options was the true message of humanity. Ok, now that we’ve establishes that, who declared you the arbitrator of what the true message of Christianity is? And if the answer is no one, then what makes your determination of the true message of Christianity more valid than the determination of the man who says that god hating homosexuals is the true message of Christianity? How is that determination made?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Jimizo

.....incidentally, many Christians tell you love others as you love yourself

...is the most important commandment.

That is what the second part of Jesus' statement that I quoted says.

Do you think homosexuals should be treated as equals ( made in God’s image )

Of course.

and given the full rights afforded to straight people?

Basic human rights like love, respect, legal protection, self-determination, etc. Of course.

I don't consider a marriage license a basic human right. In fact I think there's a case to be made to abolish them. But if we are going to issue them, I would suggest it be on the basis of why they were introduced in the first place, for the recognition of and promotion of the primary human activity that ensures the perpetual existence of the human race and is, in my opinion, the gold standard situation for the nurturing of children: The unions of men and women.

This opinion does not mean I have hatred or particular discrimination towards LGBTQ. Not everyone gets what they want. There are other groups who can't get marriage licenses. There are also countless examples of many groups of people who don't qualify for certain legal statuses, benefits, etc. This doesn't immediately denote hatred or discrimination.

If you answer no, I get the sense you are with Falau in your hatred, dislike or disapproval ( I’m guessing disapproval in your case ) but to a different degree.

This is an intricate issue with me and difficult to explain in short, but simply speaking....I want people to be happy. If a person is a Christian then I'd expect they follow God's wishes regarding sexuality. If not, all the best to them. Either way, I wish them happiness.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Strangerland

what makes your determination of the true message of Christianity more valid than the determination of the man who says that god hating homosexuals is the true message of Christianity? How is that determination made?

Jesus himself makes the determinations re Christian doctrine. Not me or anyone else. There is no Biblical text anywhere that says God hates gays no matter what off track Christians like Westbro Baptist Church say. But there are oodles of Biblical texts saying that God loves everyone just the same, including gays.

These are not my opinions. Read the text yourself if you really wanna know.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Concerned citizen

Now you have clarified it is your own self-proclaimed ‘informed’ opinion, it would be better not to tell us what the true meaning of Christianity is. It would be more humble and accurate to make clear it is your view of Christianity which leads you to agree or disagree on particular issues.

I don’t doubt you are well read on this topic, but I’m pretty sure there are people more informed than yourself who come to the conclusions that fire awaits gays or that they should be allowed to marry.

Humility is a virtue. I’ll look forward to ‘In my opinion’ prefacing your views.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Jimizo

So what is it then? Can you give us chapter and verse like before?

This is not the forum for an in depth Bible study.

If not, can you give us the particular denomination, scholar/preacher/televangelist who teaches the correct view or is it just your idea?

Rev. Timothy Keller gives a pretty good simple explanation of the Biblical viewpoint here:

https://youtu.be/IZFCB9sduxQ

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Jimizo

You asked for my opinion and I gave it, based on what I've read in the text.

Anyway, if you really wanna know the biblical position on homosexuality but are perplexed by Christian's varying viewpoints, then read the book yourself and form your own conclusions.

All the best to you.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Ps Jimizo.....

When the Biblical text is crystal clear and no sane Christian disputes it, I say so. When it's open to debate, I give my opinion.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

You asked for my opinion and I gave it, based on what I've read in the text.

Yes, you gave your opinion. I have read the Bible and I formed my own opinions.

The difference between us is you often claim to know what the ‘true’ Christianity is among many interpretations.

I just think you’d be better having the humility to clarify that it is your opinion rather than the ‘true’ meaning.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When the Biblical text is crystal clear and no sane Christian disputes it, I say so

So, to be clear, informed Christians who are of the opinion that gay marriage is acceptable after seriously considering the text do have a reasonable opinion rather than a misunderstanding of the ‘true’ Christianity?

Surely you wouldn’t dismiss these people as insane?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Jimizo

Don't take mine or anyone else's 'opinion' on this. You've read the book yourself. How about you tell us verse and scripture that specifically condones gay marriage.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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