Football and team sports in general have not traditionally been welcoming places for LGBTQI people, especially those that are male-dominated like NRL or AFL.
Recent times have brought much welcome change in that area, especially in the upper echelons of the sport, as management and teams throw their support behind ending homophobia and now, behind achieving marriage equality.
In a sign of the times, Australian Rugby Union as an organisation yesterday took the step of joining Cricket Australia, the Football Federation, and the NRL in throwing their support behind the ‘yes’ campaign.
But obviously not all players are on board with the support, with Wallabies player Israel Folau taking to Twitter today to (for some reason) make sure everyone knows that he wants to be distanced from the campaign.
The 28-year-old Folau is an extremely talented and popular athlete, having reached the high peaks of rugby union, rugby league and AFL. He is also openly religious, and obviously felt it necessary to publicly state his views.
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.✌❤????
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) September 13, 2017
Ah yes, the old ‘I respect everyone, I just don’t want them to have equality’ claim. Great stuff.
This, of course, sparked a big response as people decided that Izzy should hear what they had to say as well.
Sad to hear you state this mate. Human rights aren't an opinion.
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottliebFOX) September 13, 2017
Best eliminate the heart emoji then, dude.
— Todd Baker (@subastral) September 13, 2017
Why don't you vote 'yes', then, like, just don't get gay married? ????????♂️
— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) September 13, 2017
And lots of people were confused as to why he felt the need to publicly state his opinion at all.
I respect the belief but why would you feel the need to actively state it? Could just keep it to yourself.
— Bill (@billyography) September 13, 2017
What a disappointing use of your platform. Disgraceful. Way to contribute to the oppression of LGBTQ community.
— Jessica May (@jaylee113) September 13, 2017
His one tweet ended up causing him to trend in Australia, proof of how much impact individuals can have in this debate.
— Trends Australia (@TrendsAustralia) September 13, 2017
Pretty disappointing.Image: Getty Images / Anthony Au-Yeung