Court documents reveal former rugby star Israel Folau offered a public apology over his homophobic Instagram post.
“Mr Folau, in his evidence (before the tribunal), conceded that people who are homosexual, or who had a homosexual friend or a child struggling with homosexuality, may have been offended by the 2019 Instagram post and that he understood that at the time of making it,” Rugby Australia claims in its defence, as reported by news.com.au
In addition, he conceded he’d breached Rugby Australia’s Code of Conduct and offered to let the rugby body vet his social media posts.
This new information came to light in documents lodged by Rugby Australia outlining its defence in the Federal Circuit Court case that Folau has brought against the sporting organisation for wrongful dismissal.
Folau is suing Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW for unlawful termination of his $5.7 million contract and is demanding an apology, his job back and a further $5 million in compensation.
Folau, who fronted a campaign supporting gay rugby’s Bingham Cup in 2014, has used his social media to post homophobic comments under the guise of religious expression.
Simon Dunn, a member of the world cup-winning gay rugby team, The Sydney Convicts (and former Australian bobsleigh team, first openly gay man to represent his country in the sport), said Folau’s posts negatively impacted LGBTIQ teens.
“I’m beyond confident saying that he had a negative effect on hundreds of kids’ lives because of those comments.
“That’s why I have always been very public about calling Him out on everything he’s said, although he’s blocked me on social media. His comments shouldn’t go unchecked,” Dunn said.
Dunn said the comments and posts would negatively effect the mental health of LGBT teens. “If I was 13 or 14 and struggling with my sexuality that would have had a massive impact on me, and kids at school would have picked it up and used it as a reason to justify their bullying,” he said.
“As an adult who was a gay teen I can see the devastating effect it will and will continue to have,” Dunn said.