An Australian rugby player has caused outrage by suggesting the country’s bushfire crisis was caused by its same-sex marriage and abortion laws.
Israel Folau, who was sacked for making anti-gay comments on social media in May, described the fire as a ‘little taste of God’s judgement’.
Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has condemned the remarks, branding them ‘appallingly insensitive’.
As per BBC News, he told reporters:
He is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes but that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievance [and] offence this would have caused to the people whose homes have burnt down.
Folau, who is a Christian, made the hate-filled comments during a sermon in his Sydney church on Sunday, where he said Australia’s decision to pass abortion and same-sex marriage laws had gone against ‘God’s word’, suggesting the country should ‘repent’.
The former rugby player said:
Look how rapid, these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come, in a short period of time. You think it’s a coincidence or not?
His comments have understandably caused outrage among devastated Australians online, after six people have died in the fires.
I’d never pray to a god that exacted punishment by indiscriminately creating fires – burning people and wildlife, leaving people homeless…
Never.#IsraelFolau you can keep your god.
If I followed a god, I’d choose one who loved and cared for each and every person. #bushfires
— Röbïnä (@RubyandAlex) November 18, 2019
If Israel Folau wants to speak his mind saying the bush fires & drought is gods punishment for same sex marriage.
Well I guess I can say Israel Folau is fucking dickhead then.
— jackie (@JackieWarner13) November 18, 2019
The 30-year-old was sacked by Rugby Australia in May after he said that ‘hell awaits’ for gay people on social media.
While Folau has been hugely criticised for these comments and others attacking transgender people, he has also received support from Christian groups.
He is currently going through the courts suing Rugby Australia for his dismissal, in which he claims his contract was unlawfully terminated due to his religious beliefs.
However, Rugby Australia has reaffirmed its stance on sacking the 30-year-old, saying he breached the players’ code of conduct.
Before his dismissal, Folau was one of Australia’s highest paid athletes.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.