Rugby star Israel Folau defies teammates as he comes out against same-sex marriage

A prominent Australian rugby star has come out against marriage equality.

Israel Folau posted to Twitter Wednesday explaining why he will vote ‘no’ in the country’s upcoming vote on marriage rules.

The opposition comes despite his own team, Qantas Wallabies, being strongly in support of the equality measure.

Israel Folau of the Wallabies

Folau wrote of his decision: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”

The message was followed by peace, heart and prayer signs.

Folau’s stance is at direct odds to comments from Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper.

“For a lot of guys, they’re about footy and our job is rugby, but sport has ability to cross boundaries,” Hooper told The Canberra Times.

“We’re all very supportive of the ‘yes’ campaign and this is the approach we’ve taken.”

The team has even changed its logo to be in rainbow colours as it urges rugby fans to back equality.

The first-of-its-kind postal ballot is now underway, with the first ballots mailed out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Tuesday.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The public vote, which is non-binding and advisory in nature, has no legal power – but the result will likely be taken into consideration by the country’s lawmakers.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has opted to put the issue of same-sex marriage to the people in a contentious and controversial public vote.

Ballots will continue to be sent out to registered voters in the coming days and weeks.

The ballot paper will read: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

Polling shows that the Yes campaign has a healthy lead in the vote.

The deadline for the return of ballots is November 7, giving a voting period of nearly two months.

The result of the ballot will be announced at the end of November.