Aussie Rugby Player: Gays Going to Hell

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 4, 2018

If you believe in God, you might wonder whether He has a plan just for you.

And if you're gay, MSN reports, Aussie rugby player Israel Folau believes he can tell you in a nutshell what that plan is: Hell. Actually, make that "HELL" - all caps.

Folau, who plays for New South Wales team the Waratahs and is seen as the country's preeminent rugby player, has been sitting out games due to an injury. Waxing philosophical in a recent social media post, Folau put up a cartoon illustrating the difference between a person's own life plan (a straight line without obstacles) and God's plan (a journey beset with an array of difficulties). When a fan posted a query as to God's plan for gays in the post's comments section, Folau fired off, "HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God."

Folau's reply made no apparent distinction between LGBTQ people of faith and those who do not believe in Christian religions.

The post, which drew both condemnation and support, was later deleted, Reuters reported, but not before screenshots of the exchange spread like wildfire on social media.

Openly gay fellow athlete Gareth Thomas posted a tart rejoinder of his own, asking, "What's his plan for you then @IzzyFolau," reported British newspaper the Sun.

Others on social media were quick to point out the disparity between Folau's message and the official policies of Rugby Australia, Gay Times reported, quoting from the policy:

"Rugby has and must continue to be a sport where players, officials, volunteers, supporters, and administrators have the right and freedom to participate regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion and without fear of exclusion.... There is no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words both on and off the field must reflect this."

Various news outlets observed that last fall, as Australian residents considered the question of marriage equality through a plebiscite conducted via mail, Folau claimed to "love and respect all people for who they are," but nonetheless declared, "I will not support gay marriage."

Media outlets noted that Folau, 29, grew up Mormon but later converted to Assemblies of God.

Noted the Sun, "Bizarrely, in 2014, he was a face of the Bingham Cup, an amateur gay rugby tournament."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.