‘Quiet Australians are speaking with their wallets’: Israel Folau’s supporters continue to pour in donations as Christian Lobby slams bank’s witch hunt against footy star’s wife
- Donations are still pouring in for Israel Folau’s legal fight with Rugby Australia
- A new appeal set by Australian Christian Lobby has already raised $1.6 million
- Group managing director Martyn Iles hit out at public backlash on Wednesday
- He also defended Folau’s netball star wife Maria, who has been condemned
- Mr Iles said the harm Folau has suffered is completely disproportionate
The group behind Israel Folau’s reignited fundraising campaign says financial support for the disgraced rugby player has continued to flood in.
A new appeal set by the Australian Christian Lobby has raised $1.6 million within 36 hours.
It is more than double the figure raised in four days on GoFundMe, which shut down Folau’s page on Monday following widespread backlash.
More than 15,000 people have donated to the new campaign at the rate of 10 donors per minute, according to group managing director Martyn Iles.
‘The quiet Australians are now speaking again with their wallets,’ Mr Isles told Channel Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday.
Public donations continue to pour in towards sacked Wallabies star’s Israel Folau’s (pictured with wife Maria) legal fight with Rugby Australia after his contract was torn up
‘A lot of people have actually said that they want to give, but GoFundMe haven’t refunded them yet, so there’s a lot of juice left on this.
‘I think people are finding their voice and are saying they identify with this.’
The money will fund Folau’s legal battle against Rugby Australia after his $4 million contract was torn up last month when he shared a homophobic social media post.
Mr Iles also jumped to the defence of Folau’s netball star wife Maria, who has been publicly condemned by ANZ Bank for supporting her husband’s stance.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles (pictured) told Sunrise that the new fundraising page has raised more than $1.6 million since Tuesday
‘Our purpose is to advocate changes in law and public policy because this is a religious freedom issue which has implications for law and public policy, which is why this is so important,’ Mr Iles said.
The Christian Lobby boss agreed that Folau should take responsibility for his social media post but added ‘the harm he suffered is completely disproportionate’.
‘He shouldn’t have to lose his job. He shouldn’t have to have his career taken away and banned. He shouldn’t have his wife targeted,’ Mr Iles said.
‘It is completely disproportionate, I don’t think it’s right…This goes to the heart of his faith, his identity and who he is as a person.’
Folau’s wife Maria (pictured with Israel), a New Zealand netballer has also copped criticism
Rugby Australia sacked Folau after he paraphrased a biblical passage on social media saying ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’ would go to hell unless they repented.
The devout Christian said he had been discriminated against on religious grounds and set up the GoFundMe page, which had raised more than $750,000 before it was shut down.
More than 95,000 people had signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe to take down Folau’s page.
A spokesman for Folau denied his campaign was incompatible with GoFundMe’s terms of service and said he was the victim of a campaign of discrimination.
Martin Isles says Israel Folau (pictured with his wife) has taken responsibility for his controversial social media posts which left his rugby union career in tatters
The former Wallabies player has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against Rugby Australia and is seeking up to $10 million in damages.
The Fair Work Commission hearing begins on Friday.
The former rugby union, AFL and NRL star believes he will spend years fighting his legal battle with Rugby Australia.
Taking to Instagram on Saturday night he said he was in ‘a long and hard battle’ and would see it through to the very end – no matter how long it took, and hinted he was comfortable using public donations to do so.
‘Sadly, Rugby Australia have said that they will devote significant resources to fight me in court,’ Folau wrote.
‘This shows I have a long and hard battle on my hands, which is why I am asking for your support. The money that is donated will be used to fund my legal battle, which could take years.’