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Israel Folau’s GoFundMe campaign has just been shut down amid huge backlash

The controversy over anti-gay remarks erupts again
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BREAKING: Israel Folau‘s GoFundMe campaign to cover his legal costs in the wake of his sacking over anti-gay social media posts has just been sensationally pulled, following a large-scale public backlash.

WATCH THE VIDEO OF LISA WILKINSON CONFRONTING FOLAU SUPPORTER BELOW 

The sacked rugby star’s campaign had received over $750,000 in donations before it was removed, following a deluge of complaints that his cause was a breach of GoFundMe’s terms of service.

According to the site it will not accept campaigns ‘we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases’.

The result follows a dramatic few days for Folau’s campaign. Amid a social media backlash towards Folau and his supporters, Lisa Wilkinson and David Koch both asked pointed questions to a major supporter of the Folau campaign, amid controversy over the millionaire footballer’s stance.

Folau controversially posted an Instagram message claiming that gays would go to hell – sparking a firestorm of controversy, and leading to his sacking.

Talking to the Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Martyn Iles, who claimed Christians were ‘marginalised’, Lisa tried to nail him down on exactly what he thinks of gays.

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Folau is back in the headlines

‘Speaking of feeling marginalised, do you believe that homosexuals go to hell?’ Lisa pointedly asked.

‘The mainstream Christian belief on this is that all of us are born going to hell,’ Mr Iles responded, notably without addressing the specific nature of the question.

Iles’ organisation is backing Folau’s GoFundMe campaign, which has at the time of writing raised $755,000 for a $3 million goal, from nearly 10,000 donors, while other Australians in desperate need of donations for medical costs are struggling to get enough funding for treatment on the site.

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Lisa confronted Iles (Credit: The Project)

Wealthy Folau has a $7 million property empire, and until recently owned a Lamborghini worth $500,000.

Struggling to understand why the Australian Christian Lobby would support Folau, co-host Tommy Little, dissatisfied with Iles’ answer to Lisa, again sought a specific response from the spokesperson about his position on gays, and if he agreed with Folau’s assertion that gay people were going to hell.

‘I’m not really clear what you do think,’ Little said. ‘Do you think homosexuals go to hell or not?’

‘No, I don’t think it’s that simple,’ Iles finally responded, raising further questions about why he would support Folau.  

‘I think that all of us will be judged by God and the reason we go to hell is because we decline the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.’ 

But not all Christians are on this side. Prominent Gosford priest Father Rod Bower appeared on Sunrise this morning – see video below – slamming the Australian Christian Lobby for ‘manipulating’ the Folau controversy to ‘promote their own conservative political agenda’, saying the controversy will only ‘further marginalise groups of people who already live on the edges of our society.’ 

Amid the chorus of anger, Rugby League great Ian Roberts has also hit back at Folau, pointing out the harm that hostile rhetoric does to vulnerable people, especially gay kids, who have an alarming suicide rate.

‘I do feel sorry for Israel but there are consequences to your actions,’ Roberts said. ‘I don’t say this lightly and what I’m about to say, the language I use is hard and it’s for a point, it’s to get that message across. There are literally kids in the suburbs killing themselves.

‘These types of remarks can and do push people over the edge. There can’t be any tolerance of bigotry.

‘LGBTIQ people [are] five-times more likely to die of suicide than the general population. Sixteen per cent of LGBTIQ people, before the age of 27, have attempted suicide twice.’

Folau’s former teammate, Drew Mitchell, slammed the player on Twitter, calling the wealthy player out for begging for cash and playing the victim while dozens of Australians with dire medical needs are begging for cash, with far less success, on GoFundMe.  

‘YOU are in a fight that YOU chose to be in after YOU broke the terms of YOUR contract, the kids below are in a fight they NEVER wanted to be in & yet YOU think YOU deserve donations more than they do??!!’ he wrote.  

‘It’s no longer about religion, it’s about YOU and YOUR greed.’

In an interview this morning on Sunrisesee video below – David Koch again asked Martyn Iles if it was right for wealthy Folau to ask for public cash to help him win a possible $10 million payout. He further referenced passages of the Bible that appear to endorse slavery, or suggest divorcees will go to hell – and suggested there were many things in the book that don’t stand up well to current values. 

Iles denied that interpretation of scripture and claimed any winnings Folau might receive would go to an appropriate cause. 

Need help? Call Lifeline on 131 114, visit www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/get-help-home, or call beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

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