Tonga royal family member speaks out against rugby player Israel Folau’s anti-gay views
A member of the Tonga royal family has spoken out against the homophobic views of rugby player Israel Folau.
The Australian rugby union player sparked a backlash in April after writing gay people would go to “hell” unless “they repent their sins and turn to God” on his Instagram page.
A number of people have criticised Folau for his anti-gay views, including the Honorable Frederica Tuita Filipe, the daughter of Tonga’s Princess Royal. Folau is Tongan by descent.
“Obviously the way we represent our interpretation of God’s word & love is different,” she wrote on Twitter.
“My silence was my attempt at respecting our different interpretations but I fear by doing that I’m encouraging the marginalisation of a group of people I love & serve as much as any other Tongan.”
“You’ve worked hard to be in a position of leadership, I was born into mine. I’ve seen how forgiveness, love & inclusion bring people closer to God. I hope the trials you face give you the strength to open your heart & mind to differing views,” she added.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tonga and carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment, but the Polynesian state has an active LGBTQ community.
Earlier this month, Folau said he stood by his beliefs and would not back down despite the backlash he had received after his comment, which was later removed from the social media post.
“I stand firm in what I believe in and that’s something personal with who I am,” he told the Australian Associated Press.
“That’s something that comes truly from the bottom of my heart. That doesn’t interfere with anything to do with my rugby and the guys around me.”
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