Christian group replenishes Folau’s legal war chest

Israel Folau had pledges of A$1.26 million (€770,000) yesterday after hundreds of donors helped fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia. Picture: Getty Images

Canberra

Israel Folau’s second fundraising drive for legal costs has already received more donations in 24 hours than his previous GoFundMe campaign managed to raise before its closure on Monday. The sacked Wallabies star had pledges totalling A$1.26 million (€770,000) yesterday after hundreds of donors emptied their pockets to help fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia.

On a relaunched campaign facilitated by the Australian Christian Lobby, in the space of 14 hours the cash figure edged past A$765,000 (€468,000), which is about what Folau accumulated through his GoFundMe website. It soon hit A$800,000.

It was an exercise former Wallaby teammate Drew Mitchell labelled “greedy” before the American company cancelled the page and issued refunds because Folau’s cause violated their terms and conditions.

It didn’t take long for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) to get involved and support the multimillionaire, who has pleaded for the public to fund his legal battle with Rugby Australia after the code’s governing body sacked him for a “high-level breach” of the professional players’ code of conduct.

Folau posted a photo on Instagram on April 10 that said homosexuals were destined for hell unless they repented their sins. Legal experts have expressed their bewilderment at why Folau wanted A$3 million from his GoFundMe page when his fees won’t come close to that figure.

In the 14 hours the page has been live, Folau has been making close to A$60,000 (€35,000) an hour. Throughout the morning when Australians began waking up, donations came in at more than A$1,000 a minute. The ACL kick-started the fund with a A$100,000 donation of their own.

“Recently, the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau’s legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations,” ACL managing director Martyn Iles said on the website.

On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating A$100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.

“I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer. All gifts you give on this web page will be deposited into a trust account to pay for Israel Folau’s legal case. So, please give generously today to help Israel Folau stand for your religious freedom.”

The GoFundMe campaign will issue refunds to 7,000 donors who contributed more than $520,000 in four days to Folau’s cause before his online campaign was halted.

“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded this campaign violates our terms of service,” GoFundMe regional manager in Australia, Nicola Britton, explained. “As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity,” Britton said. “While we welcome GoFundMe’s engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.”

Folau, who describes himself as a devout Christian and says he was referencing the bible in his social media posts, has polarised opinion in Australia. The 30-year-old Folau listed gay people among a group of sinners whom he said would face damnation unless they repented. He had previously been warned after a similar post during Australia’s national debate over the legalisation of gay marriage.

A spokesman for Folau was quoted by AAP as saying GoFundMe’s decision was disappointing and went against the rights of people to support Folau, who said he is fighting for his religious beliefs. More than 95,000 people signed a petition calling on GoFundMe to take down Folau’s page.

More on this topic

Murray won’t rest on laurelsMurray won’t rest on laurels

England squad bonding by watching Love IslandEngland squad bonding by watching Love Island

All Blacks head coach clarifies domestic violence commentsAll Blacks head coach clarifies domestic violence comments

World Cup omission ‘still burns’ for Alex LozowskiWorld Cup omission ‘still burns’ for Alex Lozowski

More in this Section

Hamilton, Djokovic, Federer and Eoin Morgan’s men serve up a super SundayHamilton, Djokovic, Federer and Eoin Morgan’s men serve up a super Sunday

Bernd Wiesberger thrilled after claiming ASI Scottish Open titleBernd Wiesberger thrilled after claiming ASI Scottish Open title

5 of the most memorable Wimbledon finals5 of the most memorable Wimbledon finals

Gerrard eager to raise the standards at RangersGerrard eager to raise the standards at Rangers


Lifestyle

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

Despite the many issues in the housing market, the number of mortgages being approved is rising, with first-time buyers making up the bulkMaking Cents: Key points for people buying their first house

When it comes to music podcasts, the actual tunes themselves are not essential — the best series discuss around the music.Podcast Corner: Digging deep with music podcasts

More From The Irish Examiner