Folau caught up in gay rights 'riot'

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 07:55
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REACTION: Wallabies superstar Israel Folau has been caught up in a social media riot after expressing his opposition to same-sex marriages.

Folau, a devout Christian, tweeted on Wednesday: "I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage."

This comes at a time when sporting bodies across Australia threw their weight behind gay marriage, with cricket the latest to add its support for same-sex marriages as a contentious postal vote on the issue began.

So far, 15 sports organisations have signed an open letter urging marriage equality, including Football Federation Australia, Basketball Australia, the National Rugby League and several Aussie Rules clubs.

Folau is the fiance of star Silver Ferns shooter Maria Tutaia and has played 58 tests for Australia since 2013.

Folau is believed to be the first high-profile sportsperson to have publicly announced their opposition to same-sex marriage.

The 28-year-old was raised as a Mormon, but is now a devout Christian after his family converted in 2011.

Folau credits his relationship with God as one of the reasons for his athletic prowess and his success in the NRL, AFL and Rugby Union.

His views are in stark contrast to Wallabies teammate David Pocock, who has taken the year off rugby but will be back in the Test ranks alongside Folau next year.

A passionate campaigner for a variety of social issues including homophobia and marriage equality, Pocock famously declared four years ago that he would not tie the knot with his partner Emma Palandri until gay people were legally permitted to do the same.

As recently as last month, Pocock was using his Twitter account to encourage people to check their enrolment to ensure they are able to vote.

 

When my survey arrives I’ll #VoteYes for justice and love. #MarriageEquality

— David Pocock(@pocockdavid) September 13, 2017

 

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and captain Michael Hooper also met with politicians in Canberra earlier this week to show their support for same-sex marriage, with the team currently stationed in the nation's capital ahead of Saturday's Test match against Argentina in Canberra.

Folau's tweet didn't only draw criticism, however, with many in support of his right to make his state his opinion among the more than 800 replies, almost 400 retweets and 1,400 likes within the first hour of it being posted on Twitter.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said his organisation's decision to sign-up was in keeping with its vision of being a sport for all.

"Cricket must be a welcoming environment for each and every one of us, regardless of gender, cultural heritage and - importantly in the current environment - sexuality," he said.

"That holds true whether you are pulling on pads for the first time in community cricket, representing your country, volunteering your time or working for a cricket organisation."

 

In the words of one of my heroes, “my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” #VoteYes #MarriageEquality pic.twitter.com/VPwuglbhl2

— David Pocock(@pocockdavid) September 13, 2017

 

After more than a decade of political wrangling, a national survey on whether gay marriage should be legalised got underway Tuesday with ballot papers mailed out.

The voluntary postal vote, which will ask: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?", will close on November 7, with the result known on November 15.

While Football Federation Australia announced its support for gay marriage two years ago, the hugely-popular National Rugby League was a more recent advocate with chief executive Todd Greenberg only going public at the weekend.

Sources: AAP & AFP