Pioneering gay rugby referee Nigel Owns called an ‘abomination’ in hateful, homophobic letter

Nigel Owens makes a gesture while refereeing a rugby match in a green shirt.

Retired rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE was banned by Facebook after sharing a a screenshot of homophobic abuse he had received from an anonymous user on Instagram.

In a 21 November tweet, he once again shared the picture in which a user called him a “f****t” and said he should have stayed “out of South African rugby games”.

“Facebook have blocked ME for 30 days,” he wrote. “Not the person who was actually posting the homophobic comments.

“Unbelievable. And now I can’t contact Facebook to explain.”

Nigel Owens standing with his hands on his hips during a rugby match wearing a yellow shirt and black trunks.
Nigel Owens called out the online troll who posted the homophobic letter. (Getty)

Owens was temporarily banned on both Instagram and Facebook since his accounts were “linked”.

Followers of the sporting legend, who came out as gay in 2007, came forward to praise his actions.

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“We in the rugby community have stood with you ever since you came out and [we’re] with you today,” one wrote.

Another replied to Owens, writing: “Nigel, as a South African, I always loved to watch you referee and I continue to value your input on all issues both rugby-related and non-rugby-related.

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“You are a figure to look up to and I am sorry you continue to face abuse for who you are.”

Later the same day, Owens posted thanking everyone for the support and adding that his “unjust Facebook block is over”.

After being reinstated on Instagram, he posted an image of a letter addressed to him that called Owens’ sexuality an “abomination” and described AIDs as “God’s punishment to the sodomites”.

“Unless we start calling out these kinds of people, nothing will change. It hurts and there is no need for all this hate,” Owens wrote.

Instagram users responded with an outpouring of support for Owens, with some saying they were “speechless” at the letter.

The rugby referee has been an outspoken member of the LGBTQ+ community since coming out, telling PinkNews in December 2021 that the sport “has a place for everybody”.

“You don’t have to hide who you are in rugby,” he said. “I’ve proven that.

“There are a minority of people in all walks of life – and there’s a minority of people in rugby – who won’t like somebody because of their sexuality… But you should never be afraid to be who you are.”

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