Israel Folau is begging for donations form the public to fund his legal battle with Rugby Australia.
The 30-year-old was sacked last month after he made repeated homophobic comments on social media, claiming that homosexuals are destined for hell unless they repent for their sins.
The devout Christian, who has hosted a series of controversial church sermons in Sydney, has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against Rugby Australia and is seeking up to $10million in damages.
The 30-year-old (center with his family as a child) was sacked after he made repeated homophobic comments on social media, claiming that homosexuals are destined for hell unless they repent for their sins
Folau signed a four-year contract in 2018 worth an estimated $5million per year and has been one of the country’s best paid sportsmen since joining rugby union in 2013.
But despite his significant wealth, he is asking members of the public to donate $3million to fund his legal fees.
The fullback of Tongan descent said he and his wife Maria have spent $100,000 of his own money on legal bills so far – but are bracing for much higher fees to come.
My identity is my faith – that’s why I want to stand up for the word of god
Folau speaking to Alan Jones on Friday
‘That was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes. The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court,’ he wrote on his GoFundMe page which was set up on Tuesday.
Rugby Australia sacked Folau over homophobic Instagram posts because it deemed he breached his contract which stated he must treat people equally and fairly.
Folau says he was only sharing a message from the Bible and is being punished for his religious beliefs.
His fundraising page features a video of him talking to the camera cut with pictures of his childhood.
The fullback of Tongan descent said he and his wife Maria (pictured together) have spent $100,000 of his own money on legal bills so far – but are bracing for much higher fees to come
Folau (pictured right with family as a child) says he was only sharing a message from the Bible and is being punished for his religious beliefs
In a plea for donations, he says: ‘Rugby Australia has an army of lawyers at their disposal and they have already said they will divert significant resources to fight me in court.
‘The cost to me and my family of continuing my legal action against Rugby Australia is expected to be significant.
‘Since my contract was terminated by Rugby Australia, I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by support received from family, friends, fans and the public.
‘Even people who don’t share my beliefs have defended my right to uphold and express them.
Folau shared this social media post claiming homosexuals were going to hell unless they ‘repent’ – and he refused to apologise
‘They made me realise that I’m not just fighting for my future and my family, I’m fighting for what’s right. But I can’t do it alone.
‘If you want to join this journey with me, to fight for the right to freedom of religion, please donate. Thank you and God bless.’
Speaking to Alan Jones on Radio 2GB on Friday morning, Folau said he did not mean to offend people with his homophobic posts.
‘From my perspective this comes from a place of love… so they can repent if they chose to and turn away from that and can go to heaven.’
Explaining why he is taking Rugby Australia on, he said: ‘My principle and my faith are what’s driving me from the get-go.
‘My faith defines me as a person
‘My identity is my faith – that’s why I want to stand up for the word of god.’
On Sunday, Folau launched another attack on gay people and also criticised young people being allowed to change gender during a sermon at his Sydney church.
He described homosexuality as a sin and claimed the devil was behind primary school children being allowed to decide if they wanted to change gender.
‘This is what the devil is trying to do, to instill into the government, into this world, into society, and it is slowly happening,’ Folau said in his Sunday sermon at The Truth of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst.
‘The sad thing is why a lot of people out there that are non-Christians say bad things about the church, is because a lot of the churches allow those things to happen.
‘They say that a man and a man should be able to be married and there is nothing wrong with it. This buys into the theme of pleasing man rather than pleasing God and standing up for the truth.’
The 30-year-old’s rant was posted on the church’s Facebook page.
Folau also criticised modern ‘westernised’ churches and said true believers in Christ ‘profess him wherever we go’.
‘Are we too scared because we might be cast out by our workplace or cast out of somewhere because we’re not liked or loved by those around us and don’t believe the same thing we do?’ he asked.
‘You might be the only born-again Christian in that workplace, you might feel a bit awkward with your co-workers because they are in the world and you’re not. We should feel blessed… because God has called us.’
Israel Folau has launched legal action against Rugby Australia after he was sacked for homophobic Instagram posts