Israel Folau says claims he is homophobic after anti-gay remarks he posted on social media “could not be further from the truth”.
A fortnight ago, in response to a question from a fellow Instagram user, Folau said God’s plan for gay people was “HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
Last week, Folau met with Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and Andrew Hore, general manager of his Super Rugby team New South Wales Waratahs.
He was not formally sanctioned for his online comments and Folau has written a 2000-word article explaining his beliefs and what was discussed in that meeting.
“Since my social media posts were publicised it has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth,” Folau wrote in an article for PlayersVoice.
“I fronted the cover of the Star Observer Magazine [in August 2014] to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women.
“I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”
Folau also revealed that during the course of the meeting he offered to quit playing rugby union both for his country and in his homeland.
“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe,” he wrote.
“I told them if they felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.
“After the meeting, I went home, turned on the TV and was really disappointed with some of the things that were said in the press conference.
“I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments, and did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia.
“That aside, I hope Raelene and Andrew appreciate my position, even if it differs with theirs.”
(c) Sky News 2018: Australia’s Israel Folau refutes claims he is homophobic and bigoted