Anti-LGBT Christian group fundraising for disgraced rugby star Israel Folau

Israel Folau posted messages claiming "hell awaits" gay people.

An anti-LGBT Christian lobbying group has set up a new fundraiser for disgraced rugby star Israel Folau, and it’s already raised a reported $900,000.

The former Wallabies player was booted off of crowdfunding site GoFundMe on Monday, as he sought to raise funds to sue Rugby Australia for sacking him over anti-gay comments.

Folau, who has told gay people that “hell awaits” them and blamed the devil for transgender children, is now receiving money from the anti-LGBT Australian Christian Lobby.

Israel Folau partners with anti-LGBT lobbying group for new fundraiser

The fundamentalist group, which has previously compared same-sex marriage to the Holocaust, is hosting the fundraiser on its own website, and claims to have raised nearly a million Australian dollars so far.

The group’s managing director Martyn Iles said: “Recently the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau’s legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.

“On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.

Israel Folau departs after Rugby Australia's code of conduct hearing into anti-LGBT social media posts

Israel Folau departs after Rugby Australia’s code of conduct hearing into anti-LGBT social media posts. Matt King/Getty)

“I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.

“All gifts you give on this web page will be deposited into a trust account to pay for Israel Folau’s legal case.”

As the group is running the fundraiser on its own website, there is no way to independently verify the donations it claims to have received.

Australian Christian Lobby has strong anti-LGBT views

Ahead of Australia’s public vote on equal marriage in 2017, the Australian Christian Lobby claimed same-sex marriage would lead to “radical gay sex education” and persecution of Christians.

In one mail-out to prospective voters, the group claimed supporters may have to “put your son in a dress” if the vote passes

The ACL’s former head Lyle Shelton stirred anger in 2016 when he claimed that changing the definition of marriage “[would cause] unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s.”

The group has also opposed a ban on gay ‘cure’ therapy and the removal of the so-called ‘gay panic’ murder defence – which allows murderers to blame gay victims for violent crimes.

Folau was sacked from both Australia’s national rugby team the Wallabies and the New South Wales Waratahs in May.

He later filed legal action against Rugby Australia and his former team, claiming he was the victim of discrimination on the basis of religion.

However, Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby said the decision to terminate his contract was made by an independent disciplinary panel due to “a serious breach of the Professional Players Code of Conduct” that included “clear guidelines and obligations regarding player behaviour.”

The two sporting bodies added: “As a sport that is proud of the values of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork that underpin our game globally and our Code of Conduct, we will defend those values and the right for all people to feel safe and welcome in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion or sexuality.”

The country’s employment tribunal, the Fair Work Commission, has ordered the two sides to hold talks in a last-ditch bid to resolve their differences before the legal battle.