NEWS

WATCH: Magda Szubanski’s amazing response to Israel Folau

'For love'
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Australian comedian Magda Szubanski has launched a rival fundraising campaign amid the cancellation of Israel Folau’s GoFundMe page and new appeal from the Australian Christian Lobby.

Ms Szubanski, who was a tireless ‘Yes’ campaigner for Australia’s same-sex marriage equality vote in 2017, set up a GoFundMe account called ‘For Love’, a multi-faith initiative which aims to raise $500,000 for children’s charities.

WATCH Magda talk about the new fundraiser here:

Speaking to Waleed Aly on The Project on Tuesday night, Ms Szubanksi admitted she couldn’t believe she was still discussing equal rights in today’s society.

“We would like to have a response to Israel Folau that’s not combative.

“It’s an interfaith group, it’s comprised of Catholics, Muslims, Jews, atheists and LGBTQI people, and we’ve started a GoFundMe campaign called ‘For Love’.”

“We hope to raise $500,000, 10 percent of which will go to Twenty10 which is an organisation I’m patron of.

“It works a lot with kids, often from diverse backgrounds who are kicked out of home because of, basically, because of their sexuality.

“Please give, because the other 90 percent – we want to show what a group of people of interfaith and different sexualities can do when they bring the best values of their faith forward – 90 percent of the money we raise will go to the Children’s Cancer Foundation.”

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Magda Szubanski with the LGBTI Celebrity Award in 2018 (Credit: Getty Images)

Ms Szubanski said she hoped ‘For Love’ would demonstrate that collaboration between minority groups can lead to something productive rather than destructive.

“A small percentage of this will go to help kids, because a lot of people will still be upset by this, you know, and remaining amount will go to – I mean, they’re saying Israel Folau is in the ‘fight of his life’, but these kids with cancer – they are in the fight of their lives and we want to help them.”

Ms Szubanski also said she offered to have a conversation with Folau on Twitter, but received no response.

The latest news in the Folau saga comes as GoFundMe‘s Chief Executive Rob Solomon defended the company’s decision to pull the embattled rugby player’s appeal page, saying the request for donations was flagged as “high risk” from the outset.

WATCH to see the backlash against Israel Folau’s original GoFundMe campaign:

Mr Solomon told News.com.au the fundraising site took serious consideration before nixing the account, saying: “To some people, it might not be crystal clear that this is a violation, while others may have a different interpretation.

“Internally, we take it very seriously. We want to factor in everything and everything is reviewed with a multi-tier assessment of our policy.”

Since GoFundMe axed the former Wallaby’s appeal for $3 million to cover legal costs in his case against the Fair Work Commission and Rugby Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby has launched a fresh appeal for donations on Folau’s behalf.

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Folau on the field with the Waratahs in April 2019, one month before his sacking (Credit: Getty Images)

The new campaign has raised more than $1.7 million, as well as an additional $100,000 pledge from the ACL itself.

The campaign has received donations of almost $1,000 per minute, ABC News reports.

Folau’s request for financial support has come under fire because of his multimillion dollar personal fortune and assortment of luxury properties across NSW and Queensland, worth a staggering $7 million.

The 30-year-old athlete had a four-year contract with Rugby Australia worth $4 million before his sacking in May.

He recently sold his Lamborghini, worth a reported $500,000.

Folau’s former Wallaby teammate Drew Mitchell labelled the fundraising attempt “greedy”, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The Sydney sports star’s wife, New Zealand netball pro Maria Folau, has voiced support for her husband on social media.

Earlier today, Folau himself took to Instagram to thank fans for their generosity and support, ending the post: “God bless!’

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Israel and Maria Folau in 2017 (Credit: Getty Images)

Folau’s religious beliefs first caused controversy in April 2018, when he responded to a fan question about “God’s plans for homosexuals” on social media saying: “Hell.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

The embattled rugby pro was accused of homophobia and the team’s chief sponsor Qantas condemned his stance, but Folau defended his words declaring he “believes in inclusion” and has “no phobia towards anyone”.

But one year later Folau, who regularly posts excerpts from the bible on Instagram and has been described as a fundamentalist Christian, shared a meme which listed various groups including homosexuals, liars, adulterers, fornicators, idolaters, drunks and thieves with the words: “WARNING: Hell awaits you. Repent. Only Jesus saves.

The post prompted Rugby Australia to announce their intent to terminate his contract.

Folau was found guilty of breaching Rugby Australia’s code of conduct and lost his sponsorship deal with Asics and on May 17 was formally sacked from the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs.

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