Israel Folau Found Guilty Of Code Of Conduct Breach Over Homophobic Instragram Post

Folau told his Instagram followers that LGBTIQ Australians will go to hell.

Israel Folau

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Rugby player Israel Folau has a long history of homophobic remarks.

In 2017, he announced his opposition to the same-sex marriage plebiscite; in 2018, he took to Instagram to announce that LGBTIQ Australians were going to hell; and in 2019, he doubled down on the comments, telling his followers that Australians in same-sex relationships needed to repent before the Lord.

It was the last incident that finally forced Rugby Australia to take action. Within a day of the post going up, Rugby Australia formally announced that the content of the post was homophobic, and that action was going to be taken against Folau.

In response, the Christian rugby player appealed the ruling. Around the same time, some in the conservative press leapt to defend Folau, arguing (incorrectly) that the issue was one of free speech. For what it’s worth, Folau is not being censured for his religious beliefs, but for breaching Rugby Australia’s code of conduct.

The counter from the rugby player triggered a three-day tribunal, overseen by some of Rugby Australia’s highest honchos — John West, Kate Eastman SC and John Boultee. On Tuesday the tribunal handed down at least part of its verdict: according to them, Folau has indeed committed a “high-level breach” of the code of conduct.

This is not the end of the tribunal’s work. It’s yet to hand down a penalty, which they plan to do after taking further evidence in the form of “written submissions” from those who know Folau. It seems most likely that the penalty will come in the form of a sacking, the termination of the player’s lucrative long-term contract with Rugby Australia.