Folau's father defends son's right to cite Bible

    2019-05-06 06:47

    Sydney - Israel Folau's father has defended his son's right to express his religious beliefs but indicated the star fullback will accept the outcome of a hearing into his dismissal over homophobic comments.

    Folau's future remains unclear after the code of conduct hearing into Rugby Australia's intention to fire the 30-year-old was extended to a third day, following a stalemate over the weekend. It will resume on Tuesday.

    The governing body wants the devoutly Christian player out of the game after he posted on social media that "hell awaits" gay people and other sinners, following a similar tirade last year.

    Folau, who now looks certain to miss this year's Rugby World Cup, has been unrepentant, insisting his life was dedicated to God, and his father Eni supported his right to cite passages from the Bible.

    "Israel does not do any wrong at all," he was quoted on Monday as telling reporters at a Pentecostal service he led on Sunday at a Sydney church.

    "All the words he posted up has not come from him, it's come from the Bible.

    "I talked to him, and he said whatever God's decision to his life, he will accept."

    Folau, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, and Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle have all given evidence at the hearing, along with NSW Rugby boss Andrew Hore.

    The three-member panel, chaired by employment law expert John West, will decide what punishment, if any, is appropriate - ranging from a fine to a suspension, or the sack.

    Folau's legal team reportedly argued that Rugby Australia did not include a social media clause in the lucrative four-year contract he signed this year, and stressed that his posts were merely quoting the Bible.

    The governing body was expected to counter that even if there was no clause, he seriously breached its broader code of conduct and inclusion policy, with his views damaging the sport.

    Folau's cousin Josiah insisted the Wallabies star was speaking from a position of love, not hate.

    "He didn't post the post or say what he said out of malice, it's words that come straight from the Bible," he was quoted as saying at the same church service.

    "The important thing for us is not so much the outcome but that the glory of God is revealed through this situation and that his truth is preached to the whole world."

    Plenty is at stake - Folau faces an end to his glittering career, while the hearing could leave Rugby Australia with a major financial headache if forced to pay out his Aus$4 million contract.

    Legal experts have warned that whatever happens, there will likely be an appeal and potentially a long and costly court battle.

    The case has proved complex and divisive, pitting Folau's right to free speech and freedom of expression against the offence he has caused to others.

    Several Pacific Island-origin players have supported Folau, while others have been critical.

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