Owens gives his thoughts on Folau's comments
REACTION: International rugby referee Nigel Owens has given his thoughts on Wallaby superstar Israel Folau's string of comments regarding gay people.
Folau recently took to Instagram and expressed the opinion that 'God’s plan' for gay people is "HELL… unless they repent for their sins".
Owens addressed the comments in a column for Wales Online.
The 46-year-old Welshman, who is openly gay, believes that comments like Folau's can put people in a moment where it's "enough to tip them over the edge, because there is a minority out there who give the impression that you cannot be who you truly are."
"We need people to understand and respect everyone for who they are, you don't have to agree with or even like it, but let everyone live their own lives," writes Owens.
"When you say gay people are going to go to hell unless they repent their sins then it's something totally different.
"Yes, you are entitled to your opinion but one should understand what that opinion can do to young and vulnerable people's lives in particular ones in a bad place dealing with their sexuality."
Owens also touched on his own personal struggles with his sexuality.
"It's not a choice of being gay. I spent years and years trying not to be gay because I didn't realise I was gay until I was about 19. It's how you are born, I believe.
"When you have young people in particular struggling with their sexuality, like I was, becoming somebody that I didn't want to be – becoming something that to me at the time was not normal in many many people's eyes, it was absolute hell in dealing with that myself personally," Owens continues.
"All that worry of if people would accept me made me suffer from mental health issues and depression that drove me to take my own life and within 20 minutes of losing my life, because of having the worry of becoming who I didn’t want to be and the worry of what people are going to say."
"I've accepted who I am, but it can affect young people going through those difficult times, believe me, as years ago I was one of them."