A new donation drive for fired rugby player Israel Folau has already raised over $760,000 to aid in his legal case against Rugby Australia, just a day after GoFundMe chose to remove his first crowdfunding appeal from its site.
The new fundraising drive is hosted Folau’s ideological allies at the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), who kicked in $100,000 to show their support for the embattled athlete.
In a statement on the web page, ACL managing director Martyn Iles said they instituted the fundraising drive “because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent,” suggesting a belief that Folau’s stoush with Rugby Australia will have serious implications for laws governing employment and discrimination.
Folau’s contract was terminated in May after an independent panel found he had violated his contract with Rugby Australia with an Instagram post which said gay people, among other ‘sinners’, will go to Hell unless they repent to Jesus Christ.
The former NSW Waratah argues that decision was an act of religious discrimination, that the post was merely an expression of his sincerely-held religious beliefs, and signalled his intention to challenge the ruling at the FairWork Commission.
Folau had asked followers to help him raise $3 million to retain the services of top-flight barristers in the legal battle, but GoFundMe yesterday pulled his donation drive from their site, claiming they would not support causes which could harm Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community.
Figures on the ACL site show the campaign is raising funds at a faster rate than the original GoFundMe drive, potentially due to heightened media attention driven by GoFundMe’s decision.
And that’s the tale of how one man’s homophobic Instagram post is still Australia‘s top news story.